...or, how a small group of people tried to keep a fire going.
"SUPERMAN: Special Edition" Revival Report
January 14, 2002
WELL, I GUESS THERE'S NOTHING NEW
"Superman" SE's last appearance in New York in late December, there has
been no new items to report on any revival screenings. So I guess as
far as SE's shelf life goes, that's it. We can now pretty much rely on
our VHS and DVD copies.
Of course, next year will be the 25th anniversary of "Superman". What will happen then? Only the future knows...
...by the way, you can see three select photos from the L.A./American Cinematheque revival event in August 2001RIGHT HERE...
THE MAJOR REVIEWS
The Cinema Laser Review
SUPERMAN Web Central Review
SUPERMAN Web Central Review, Take 2
DVD File Review (the original one on the Internet)
The Digital Bits Review
Ain't It Cool News Review
SWC's "Superman II" DVD Review...
CLICK HERE FOR THE MICHAEL THAU INTERVIEW
It took a small group of "Superman" fans
to keep the memory of the first film alive. "Superman: The Movie" was
released at Christmas 1978. It grossed over $80 million dollars in its
original release. But because of the way the television rights
were sold, this film had, until 2001, gone down in history as a forgotten motion picture
classic. It seemed for a time that this film was considered "out of sight, out of mind".
But in September of 1996, I and several other "Superman" fans (jrauman and CGBrunner) decided that a great film classic should not go unnoticed. From that point in time to the present, with the help of several other people, we made out the call...many notable people listened, to some extent.
This web site was originally created and built around a long campaign to get Warner Bros. to re-issue "Superman" in newly struck prints with digitally remastered digital sound, 70MM, and additional footage.
This effort has always been about one key issue...film preservation, and that was it. Given the state of many films such as "Lawrence Of Arabia", "My Fair Lady", "Vertigo", the forthcoming restoration of "Rear Window", and other classic films that have been re-released over the last few years, we felt that "Superman" should be given the same treatment. And now, for the time being, "Superman" has returned.
As you will see, the following timeline documents our attempts to bring the Man of Steel back to the big screen...and more.
Hiphats, jrauman, and CGBrunner, initiate a newsgroup campaign to re-release "Superman: The Movie" in time for its 20th Anniversary.
Gregory Oshel releases the first-ever web site devoted to the "Superman" movies entitled "Greg Oshel's Superman Movie Site", and the re-release campaign spreads to that site.
Hiphats launches "The Superman File", a site originally created to introduce "Superman" to beginners, and to showcase the re-release campaign.
MegadethDC releases his web site called "Superman In The Movies" and joins Hiphats' cause. It would go on to become the most comprehensive unofficial site to the films.
First re-release campaign ends; Bill Williams, a devoted fan of the expanded versions, decides to join in the campaign, starting with frequent contributions to Megadeth's web site. It is at this point that letter-writing campaigns are declared to be continued in order to convince Warner Bros. that "Superman" belongs on the big screen. Chat hours are then initiated.
It is reported on Megadeth's site that Warner Bros. has announced a re-release of "Superman" on the big screen for July 1998, with all the additional footage. It would later be proven false. Concurrently, at an annual home video convention, insiders learn that Warner Home Video will release a DVD of "Superman" only in its theatrical version, with the added footage placed in a separate supplementary section. Eventually, that idea would turn out to be rumor also.
Hiphats re-tools "The Superman File" into "Superman 60/20 Celebration", an unofficial "mother site" celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Superman character and the 20th Anniversary of the release of the film.
Warner Bros. announces a film festival to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the studio.
"Superman: The Movie" is chosen as one of the films to represent "The 1970s". Warner Bros. begins the 75th Anniversary Film Festival in New York and Los Angeles, and continues in roadshow release throughout the late Spring and Summer. Unfortunately, "Superman" would only be seen in selected cities.
At this point in time, Jim Bowers, organizer of the annual Metropolis Festival in Illinois, begins contributing assistance and information, and in time becomes the fourth member of the 60/20 team.
Annual Metropolis Festival held. The complete extended version of "Superman" is exhibited there, marking the first time ever that the long version has been shown outside of its television broadcasts. Audiences respond with cheer. By this time, Megadeth's site was re-titled "Superman: The Cinema Experience".
A month that would be the turning point in our efforts. First, a Norweigan reporter named John Berge releases an exclusive story to the 60/20 web site. In this story, Berge interviews "Superman" director Richard Donner in Europe during a premiere of "Lethal Weapon 4". Donner himself reveals that he should have been the one to direct "Superman Reborn". Also, he publicly reveals his interest in doing a re-edit of "Superman: The Movie", and that Christopher Reeve encouraged him to get the film back in theatres.
Then, Varese Sarabande Records announces their own plans to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the "Superman" film by way of a brand-new recording of John Williams' score by John Debney and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. It is originally planned as a single CD, but eventually grows into a double CD set featuring music never released to the public outside of the film. At this point, Scott Hanson of the Unofficial John Williams Web Page joins the 60/20 team and initiates a campaign to get an official expanded original soundtrack. Letters are written to both Warner Bros. Records and Rhino Records (which by this time had now become part of Time Warner).
Varese Sarabande releases the 2-CD "Superman" re-recording, and although not entirely faithful to the original recordings (due to the circumstances involving the written score sheets), fans are happy to hear the additional cues (such as the music to the helicopter scene). After a couple of soundtrack campaigns, Michael Matessino (co-producer of RCA Victor's "Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition" CDs) officially releases a statement calling an end to the campaign "for the time being" and also reveals that work on a potential soundtrack project "could happen soon", and that if it does, he "will be involved in it".
On December 15th, exactly 20 years after the release of the original movie, a special chat hour is held with guest Geoff Johns, personal assistant to Richard Donner. In this chat, he reveals things that could not be told publicly until this time. Among them, he confirmed that Warner had indeed considered a full-scale theatrical re-release of "Superman", but such plans fell through; a DVD (or any type of video or theatrical) re-release would be put on the back burner until we find out what happens with "Superman Reborn"; and that some unseen footage (other than what was seen in the theatrical, network, or KCOP versions) was found. He also confirmed that if a re-release does happen, footage would be restored and John Williams' music heard in full.
On January 15, in a prepared statement, Michael Matessino announces a landmark decision by Warner Bros. and Rhino to release an official expanded original soundtrack 2-CD set of the complete "Superman" score, with a release date projected for late summer. Matessino and Nick Redman (who also co-produced the "Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition" CDs) will handle the production of the new soundtrack release. The first major hurdle towards any sort of re-release has been cleared.
The re-release campaign is resurrected one last time. The team makes contact with film restorists Robert Harris & James Katz (the team responsible for the restorations of "Lawrence Of Arabia" and "Vertigo"). Both Harris & Katz and Michael Matessino are now made somewhat aware of the restoration request. Also, Matessino answers some questions about the content of the new Rhino CD release...he reveals that the full score will be presented in proper film order, including the second half of the "Destruction Of Krypton" music, the film versions of the main and end title, and "Can You Read My Mind" with and without Margot Kidder's vocal.
On an FM radio station in Northridge (in the Los Angeles area), Nick Redman airs the world premiere of two tracks from the new Rhino "Superman" CD release...the remastered "Leaving Home", and (for the first time ever) the "Flying Sequence" arrangement of "Can You Read My Mind" without Margot Kidder's vocal track; our re-release campaign has once again been declared closed, and no further campaigning is planned at this point.
Michael Matessino announces, in a press release, that the Rhino "Superman" soundtrack has been postponed until at least the year 2000, in order to allow Rhino more time to finish the project and to insure the best soundtrack re-release possible.
A new date is announced for the Rhino "Superman" soundtrack...April of 2000; 70MM revival screenings of "Superman" begin in Austin, Texas.
70MM revival screenings of "Superman" continue in Westwood/Los Angeles, CA; Members of the Superman Web Central team receive different notes of confirmation from WB and Geoff Johns (Richard Donner's assistant) that restoration on the "Superman" negative has begun, and that the DVD is now earmarked for a Fall 2000 re-release.
Jim Bowers is brought on as consultant on the "Superman" restoration project.
Four unreleased cues from the "Superman" score are heard on Ford Thaxton's Internet/RealAudio series, "Soundtrack Cinema"; Michael Matessino announces another new date for the Rhino "Superman" soundtrack...February 15, 2000.
Michael Matessino reveals the track listings for the Rhino soundtrack on the Film Score Monthly web site; Pre-ordering on the Internet for the Rhino CD begins.
Rhino Records releases the expanded 2-CD soundtrack to "Superman"; producer Michael Thau begins work on remastering "Superman" for DVD and possible theatrical release, under the supervision of director Richard Donner.
Richard Donner and creative consultant Tom Mankiewicz record the commentary track for the DVD; preliminary features for the DVD are announced by Warner Home Video.
Warner Bros. announces a delay of the "Superman" DVD until the summer of 2001.
Restoration on "Superman" is completed; post-production on the DVD is underway.
"Total Movie" magazine reveals more details on the film's restoration and DVD release; Warner Bros. lays the groundwork for a DVD box set of its four "Superman" films; tentative date for the DVD is set for May; plans for a test screening in Texas for the remastered Special Edition are announced for late March.
A tentative date of May 1 for the long-awaited "Superman" DVD is announced; pre-ordering on the new video release begins; more preliminary specs on the "Superman" DVD are announced.
Test screenings of the restored "Superman" take place in San Antonio, Texas, with mixed results; Warner Home Video formally announces the "Superman" home video re-release.
Advance copies of the DVD are sent out to selected members of the press; special screening of the "Special Edition" held in Detroit; Turner Classic Movies airs a remastered print of the theatrical version in 5.1 digital stereo.
MAY 1, 2001:
Remastered "Superman" DVD released.
Revival screenings of the "Special Edition" continue in Los Angeles at American Cinematheque's historic Egyptian Theatre.
Revival screening of the "Special Edition" held in New Jersey.
Revival screening of the "Special Edition" held in New York.
Obviously, this is not the final chapter of our journey to bring back "Superman". In 2003, the world will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the release of the film. Will the Man of Steel make a wider and much more organized full-scale theatrical release then? Only Warner Bros. can answer that question.
The fans have had their say, and we have done our part...now it's time for others to step in.
Thank you all for helping to keep the legacy of the original 1978 film alive...for all time.
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