by Oliver Lyttelton
April 19, 2012 1:58 PM 9 Comments
3. 25 years on, Donner would finally get the chance to have his version seen.
Donner would go on to direct megahits like "Lethal Weapon" and "The Goonies," and did his best to distance himself from the 'Superman' series, even as some of his footage resurfaced in a longer cut for international television. But in 2001, six tons of footage resurfaced in a vault in England and Donner was invited back to recut the film, although he told in an interview at the time that, "Quite honestly, I was done with it. I was finished." Fans campaigned for a new version however, and after issues with Brando's estate were resolved when Warner Bros. struck a deal to use his image in "Superman Returns," work on a new cut began in 2005, albeit without the involvement of Donner. He was eventually persuaded to participate the following year, and brought in original co-writer Tom Mankiewicz to aid him, and he recut the film from scratch from the original negative. "Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut" was released on DVD that November to good reviews: it's overwhelmingly made up of footage shot by Donner back in the day, with almost half the film material that had rarely, if ever, been seen before.
4. The film was embroiled in a congressional investigation over Marlboro's product placement.
Product placement is a fact of life in most major movies at this point, but "Superman II" was responsible for one of the more controversial examples. Philip Morrispaid $43,000 for a number of placements of Marlboro cigarettes in the film, including a giant billboard, and making Lois Lane a chain-smoker (something that she'd never been in fifty years of the comics). Unsurprisingly, even for the early 1980s, this was controversial, and it triggered a congressional investigation. By 1998, the tobacco companies were forced to sign an agreement pledging not to advertise to minors.
5. The film was presented in some theaters in Warner Bros.' short-lived sound system Megasound.
Just as the proliferation of Internet streaming has led movie theaters to invest in things like IMAX, 3D and the D-box to give audiences experiences they couldn't get at home, the coming of VHS similarly saw studios try and find new innovations to keep audiences coming to the multiplex. Warner Bros.' contribution was Megasound, which like Sensurrond (which had been around since the mid 1970s), utilized early versions of Dolby 5.1, placed speakers around the auditorium, and would send explosions and what not at a high volume, shaking the audience. First used on Ken Russell's "Altered States," the system was also used for "Outland" and "Wolfen" after "Superman II," but the gimmick died a swift death afterward.