Superman films getting hi-def Blu-ray treatment

By Sean O’Connell Can you imagine how amazing Superman’s blue-and-red tights are going to look in high-definition?

As Warner Bros. prepares to reboot the Man of Steel – again – the studio is going back to Superman’s cinematic roots. Not the hero’s black-and-white days. Back to the Richard Donner days, when the director (with Christopher Reeve’s help) took the superhero film franchises to new heights. And they are putting

“Stronger. … Faster. … Sharper!” the Blu-ray clip teases for “Superman: The Motion Picture Anthology.” The package will include

The teaser trailer is heavy on Donner’s original “Superman” and Bryan Singer’s most recent “Superman Returns.” We don’t see a lot of footage from “Superman III” or “The Quest for Peace,” but they are reportedly in the set. We’ll also see “Expanded Edition” cuts of Donner’s two films for the first time on Blu-ray.

This looks like a must-own for Superman fans and collectors.

The “Motion Picture Anthology” will be available on Blu-ray on June 7. The teaser clip is here, and full details of each disc are below:

Superman: The Original Theatrical Movie (1978) and Expanded Edition (2001)
A box-office smash, an Academy Award® winner and a fan favorite since it first flew into theatres in December 1978, Superman: The Movie assembles a cast and creative contingent as only a big movie can. At its heart (just as in three sequels) is Christopher Reeve’s intelligent, affectionate portrayal of a most human Man of Steel.

Variety called Superman “a wonderful, chuckling, preposterously exciting fantasy.”
The movie’s legacy soared even higher when director Richard Donner revisited this beloved adventure 22 years later and integrated eight additional minutes into the film. Enjoy more footage of the Krypton Council, a glimpse of stars of prior Superman incarnations, more of Jor-El underscoring his son’s purpose on Earth and an extended sequence inside Lex Luthor’s gauntlet of doom. Reeve, Marlon Brando (Jor-El), Gene Hackman (Luthor) and Margot Kidder (Lois Lane) give indelible performances that fuel the film’s aura of legend.

Disc #1
• Superman: The Movie, Original Theatrical
• Commentary by Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler (Original Theatrical Version)
• The Making of Superman: The Movie [1978 TV special]
• Superman and the Mole-Men [1951 feature]
• Warner Bros. Cartoons
o Super-Rabbit [1943 WB cartoon]
o Snafuperman [1944 WB cartoon]
o Stupor Duck [1956 WB cartoon]
• Trailers

Disc #2
• Superman: The Movie, Expanded Edition
• Commentary by Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz (Extended Version)
• Taking Flight: The Development of Superman
• Making Superman: Filming the Legend
• The Magic Behind the Cape
• Screen Tests
• Superman
• Lois Lane with Optional Commentary
• Ursa
• A Selection of Restored Scenes
• Additional Music Cues
• Main Titles
• Alternate Main Titles
• The Council’s Decision
• The Krypton Quake
• More Mugger/Introducing Otis
• Air Force One
• Can You Read My Mind (Pop Version)
• Music Only Track (Donner Cut)

Superman II (1980 and The Richard Donner Cut)
“I thought the original Superman was terrific entertainment,” the Chicago Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert wrote, “and so I was a little startled to discover that I liked Superman II even more.” Unwittingly released from Phantom Zone imprisonment, three super-powered Kryptonian criminals (Terence Stamp, Sarah Douglas and Jack O’Halloran) plan to enslave Earth – just when Superman (Christopher Reeve) decides to show a more romantic side to Lois Lane (Margot Kidder). Gene Hackman (as Lex Luthor) also returns from the first film and with a top supporting cast, witty Richard Lester direction and visuals that astound and delight.

Superman II -The Richard Donner Cut delighted fans who, for years, had been imploring Warner Home Video to release the Donner cut. In fact, the director had already shot most of the Superman II footage during Superman: The Movie. But as production on the sequel continued, creative differences between the director and the film’s producers became irreconcilable and Donner left the project. Although Richard Lester was hired to finish production, he chose to make major changes to the film, leaving only vestiges of Donner’s original vision and concepts in the version of Superman II that was ultimately released to theaters.

Nearly thirty years later, Warner Home Video was delighted to grant the wishes of countless Superman fans. With this DVD release, Richard Donner had become the first director in history to be able to complete a film he left during production with nearly all his footage “in the can.” Adding back a substantial amount of that unused footage, the director has seen his original vision restored and brought to fruition.

Most notably, the “Donner cut” restores the Marlon Brando role, filmed for, but not included in the final theatrical release version of Superman II. The legendary Brando’s performance as Jor-El has finally been restored in key scenes that amplify the Superman lore and deepen the profound relationship between father and son.

With so many other changes, large and small, including a variety of Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) schemes to unmask Clark Kent as Superman, this Superman II proved to be an eye-opening experience and an important addition to film history.

Disc #3
• Superman II, Original Theatrical
• Commentary by Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler (Original Theatrical Version)
• The Making of Superman II [1980 TV special]
• Deleted Scene
• First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series
• Fleischer Studios’ Superman
o Superman
o The Mechanical Monsters
o Billion Dollar Limited
o The Arctic Giant
o The Bulleteers
o The Magnetic Telescope
o Electric Earthquake
o Volcano
o Terror on the Midway
• Theatrical Trailer

Disc #4
• Superman II – The Richard Donner Cut
• Commentary by Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz (Donner Cut)
• Introduction by Richard Donner
• Superman II: Restoring the Vision
• Deleted Scenes
• Famous Studios’ Superman
Eleventh Hour
Destruction, Inc
The Mummy Strikes
Jungle Drums
The Underground World
Secret Agent

Superman III Theatrical Version (1983)
After Superman: The Movie’s epic storytelling and Superman II’s awesome battles, how could the first two hits be topped? In Superman III, meet Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor), a half-witted computer programming natural. For him a keyboard is a weapon – and Superman faces the microelectronic menace of his life. Christopher Reeve reprises his most beloved role, deepening his character’s human side as Clark Kent reunites with old flame Lana Lang (Annette O’Toole) at a Smallville High class reunion. And when Superman becomes his own worst enemy after Kryptonite exposure, Reeve pulls off both roles with dazzling skill. Incredible visual effects abound – but above all it has heart, heroism and high-flying humor. All in superabundance.

Disc #5
• Superman III Theatrical Version
• Commentary by Iilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler
• The Making of Superman III (1983 TV Special)
• Deleted Scenes
• Theatrical Trailer

Superman IV The Quest For Peace Theatrical Version (1987)
Christopher Reeve not only dons the cape for the fourth time but also helped develop the movie’s provocative theme: nuclear disarmament. “For me, it’s the most personal of the entire series,” Reeve said. “It directly reflects what Superman should be, and should be doing.” Superman does a lot this time around. To make the world safe for nuclear arms merchants, Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) creates a new being to challenge the Man of Steel: the radiation-charged Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow). The two foes clash in an explosive extravaganza that sees Superman save the Statue of Liberty, plug a volcanic eruption of Mount Etna and rebuild the demolished Great Wall of China.

Disc #6
• Superman IV The Quest For Peace Theatrical Version
• Commentary by Mark Rosenthal
• Superman 50th Anniversary Special (1988 TV Special)
• Deleted Scenes
• Theatrical Trailer

Superman Returns (2006)
He’s back. A hero for our millennium. And not a moment too soon, because during the five years (much longer in movie-fan years!) Superman sought his home planet, things changed on his adopted planet. Nations moved on without him. Lois Lane now has a son, a fiancé and a Pulitzer for “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman.” And Lex Luthor has a plan that will destroy millions – no, billions – of lives.

Filmmaker Bryan Singer (X-Men) gives the world the Superman it needs, honoring the legend everyone loves while taking it in a powerful new direction. Brandon Routh proves a perfect choice to wear the hero’s cape, leading a top cast that includes Kate Bosworth as Lois and Kevin Spacey as Lex. And the thrills – from a sky-grapple with a tumbling jumbo jet to a continent-convulsing showdown – redefine Wow.

Disc #7
• Superman Returns
• Requiem for Krypton: Making Superman Returns
o Pt. 1 Secret Origins and First Issues: Crystallizing Superman
o Pt. 2 The Crystal Method: Designing Superman
o Pt. 3 An Affinity for Beachfront Property: Shooting Superman- Superman on the Farm
o Pt. 4 An Affinity for Beachfront Property: Shooting Superman- Superman in the City
o Pt. 5 An Affinity for Beachfront Property: Shooting Superman- Superman in Peril
o Pt. 6 The Joy of Lex: Menacing Superman
o Pt. 7 He’s Always Around: Wrapping Superman
• Resurrecting Jor-El
• Deleted Scenes including the never-before-seen original opening to Superman Returns
• Bryan Singer’s Journals – Video production journals
• Trailers

Disc #8 Additional Bonus Material
• Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman [Hi-Def]
• You Will Believe: The Cinematic Saga of Superman
o Pt. 1- Origin
o Pt. 2- Vision
o Pt. 3- Ascent
o Pt. 4- Crisis
o Pt. 5- Redemption
• The Science of Superman [Hi-Def]
• The Mythology of Superman
• The Heart of a Hero: A Tribute to Christopher Reeve
• The Adventures of Superpup [1958 TV pilot]

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