“Director’s Cut’s” of movies are fairly commonplace today on DVD. But how about a cut of a movie by a director who was fired from the project and had most of his scenes replaced? Nearly thirty years after his work on the movie, director Richard Donner’s original vision of Superman II will be released for the first time ever on November 28.
In what was a fairly innovative move at the time, many scenes for Superman II were filmed by Donner during the making of the first Superman movie. Due to budget and time crunches, the Superman II portions were eventually put on hold in order to finish the first movie. Donner often squared off against producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind during filming, mostly over creative and budgetary differences.
Superman, of course, went on to become a 1978 blockbuster. The Salkinds and Donner were unable to work out their issues, and the director was replaced by Richard Lester to complete Superman II. Lester took a much lighter approach to the movie and re-shot much of Donner’s footage to make major changes to the film. Lester also went on to direct Superman III, the first of two movies often credited with killing the Superman movie franchise until its recent resurrection.
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut will finally make its debut 26 years after the original Superman II, as a DVD release.
According to a Warner Home Video press release yesterday, “Richard Donner has 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.”
Since this represents an almost entirely different version of Superman II than what audiences have seen up until this point, this essentially becomes the second new Superman movie of the year.
Though some may have shrugged off Warner’s hailing of 2006 as “The Year of Superman” as a mere marketing slogan, they continue to live up to their own hype. Adding to the plethora of Superman DVDs already released this year, not to mention the theatrical release of Superman Returns, Warner also announced the following new DVDs to arrive on November 28 along with Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut:
Superman: The Movie (Four-Disc Special Edition, including the 1978 version, a 2001 extended edition, and over two discs of bonus material)
Superman II (Two-Disc Special Edition of the 1981 Richard Lester version and bonus features)
Superman III (Deluxe Edition of the 1983 movie)
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (Deluxe Edition of the 1987 movie)
Supergirl (1984; International cut)
Superman Returns will likely hit DVD around the same time. Since the movie is still in first-run at theaters, Warner is probably holding off on a formal DVD announcement as to not adversely affect ticket sales.