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WB to Release Donner Cut on DVD!

Great news for all the Superman fans out there who helped us with our Superman II email campaign in 2004. I like to think that we all share a small part of Warner Bros. decision to finally restore Richard Donner's vision of Superman II and release it on DVD. The news started with some small rumbles a few months ago, which was then confirmed by Ilya Salkind and, finally, Warner Bros. themselves. Much to WB's credit, I believe WB has finally come to realize what a valuable property they have in Superman (so, it only took them a few decades). They've purchased the exclusive rights to the all the Superman movies from the Salkinds and others, plus the Superboy TV show, which is finally getting a DVD release itself. I think we can also thank Bryan Singer, who's enthusiasm for Donner's original vision also helped pave the way for this release by having Brando "appear" in Superman Returns. But enough of my ramblings, here's some excerpts and links to full articles with all the glorious news.

First up, the terrific Superman Homepage broke the news (they were first with the rumblings, too) with their great interview with Ilya Salkind. He's still not my favorite movie producer, but darn if he isn't going a long way to make up for things now.

Next up, Warner Bros. had a big shindig to announce their 2006 slate of DVD, and they've got a truckload of great stuff coming out. But the greatest of all, of course, is the Donner cut of Superman II, which you can read about at The Digital Bits:

Late in 2006 (tentatively in November, timed to coincide with the DVD release of Bryan Singer's Superman Returns), look for a 14-disc Superman: Ultimate Collector's Edition box set. This will feature new deluxe editions of all four of the original feature films, including a Superman II: Special Edition with something called The Donner Cut. This is being assembled by editor Michael Thaw based on the film's original shooting script and Donnor's original notes. At least 50% of the film will be footage you've never seen, more than 70% of it directed by Donner. You'll also get Richard Lester's final theatrical cut of the film. The Donner Cut will only be available on DVD in the Ultimate Collector's Edition box set, although it will also be released in HD-DVD (and likely Blu-ray Disc if that format is available).

We were actually shown a clip of the new Donner Cut at the event - the original opening to Superman II, in which Lois Lane notices a picture of Superman in a copy of The Daily Planet... and then she looks at Clark Kent standing nearby... and she begins drawing glasses, a suit and hat on the picture of Superman. She figures it out. Then she tells Clark she knows who she really is... and jumps out Perry White's office window to prove she's right. Clark runs at super-speed downstairs, and blows up at the falling Lois to slow her fall. She lands safely in a fruit stand, by which time Clark has already run back upstairs to preserve his identity. Someone asks him where Lois is, and he replies, "Uh... she just stepped out for a minute."

An interesting thing to note however, is that it seems Richard Donner himself hasn't yet been involved (and is not involved in cutting the new version of the film). During the event, I chatted with AICN's Drew McWeeny (well known as "Moriarty" over there) who told me that he's been interviewing Donner recently (watch for that to be posted on AICN soon). The director has reportedly told Drew that he's not really interested in revisiting the film. When asked during the event what Donner's involvement was (whether or not he'd do commentary, etc), Warner execs said, "That's still to be decided." Our guess is that the studio is still negotiating with Donner to participate, and that it's merely a matter of a dollar figure that everyone is happy with. Cross your fingers on this, because it'd be a real shame if he declined to be involved. FYI, IGN also has a brief interview with Donner that touches on this.

Man, would I have loved to have been there for that and seen those opening scenes. I hope they're wrong about the November release date, but if we have to wait, we have to wait. I'm even less thrilled that the Donner Cut will only be available as part of the Collection, unless you have an HD-DVD player. But if I have to buy the Collection, so be it. Glad I didn't buy the previous collection, for this very reason. Also surprised the Donner is actually not involved, but it sounds like the project is in good hands. You can read the Donner interview at IGN. Here's my favorite quote:

"They're doing it. Michael Thau, who used to be my assistant and is a good little editor - [said that] there were so many requests to Warner Brothers to see my cut [of Superman II] that he went to them and they authorized it."
-- Richard Donner

Thanks to all of you who wrote in, signed petitions, called, or whatever else you did. The fans spoke, and it paid off!