Superman "Special Edition" InterviewI had the pleasure of speaking with Michael Thau, Producer and Editor on the Special Edition of "Superman: The Movie".
I asked how long they've been working on producing the "Superman" Special Edition cut, and was told that it's been around a year putting all the work together, but that all up about 5 months of time was put into producing the actual final cut of the movie.
One of the big questions on many fan's minds is whether or not all of the cut footage (from the KCOP extended version) would be included in the Special Edition cut. The answer to that questions is... No. But before you go off crying let me explain. The KCOP footage shown on TV was never supposed to be in the film. A lot of footage is shot for every movie that never makes it into the final cut of a film, for various reasons. Some of the footage that won't be in the Special Edition cut of "Superman" were either cut because of poor special effects, or because the pace of the film's storyline would be adversely affected, or because of timing problems matching it with John William's musical score, etc... The cut of the movie shown on KCOP was put together to make the movie longer when shown on TV as the Television Station paid per minute to air the movie. The "Special Edition" cut is designed for the best viewing experience in the true spirit of movie making.
Most of the re-touching that has been reported in relation to the "Special Edition" was mostly needed to clean up stains and marks on the film. Many film studios began using a particular type of material in the late 1970s (called CRI) for optical printing and post production which was soon found to be less than perfect, resulting in the degradation over time. However the thing with "Superman" is the Special Effects have always been quite believable... even by today's standards.
You may have read that John William's musical score will be presented in true 5:1 surround sound. Well the story behind this is quite interesting. Amongst the 6 tonnes (!!!) of material shipped from Pinewood Studios in London to the Warner Bros. Studios in L.A. a collection of one inch audio tapes were found. These audio tapes were soon revealed to be the original 6-track musical score recordings by John Williams. This means that when you watch "Superman" the Special Edition you will be able to enjoy, for the first time, a true surround sound experience of the magical music, not a synthesized re-production.
There have been reports across the Internet that give negative reviews about the Sound Effects in this "Special Edition" cut. Let me clarify the rumors into facts... Yes, there have been enhancements to various sound effects throughout the movie. Jay Nieremberg (from SoundStorm, a company that works on many of today's big budget films) worked as the Supervising Sound Editor on this project and literally spent days improving and enhancing individual sound effects. For example, when Krypton is being shaken apart by the quakes that lead up to its final explosion, originally the breaking of the ice and snapping of the structural supports were "wooden" sounds. The "Special Edition" brings in new "crystal" breaking sounds that better be-fits the final massive quake of the crystaline planet Krypton. Other "signature sound effects", such as the sound of the Prison Rings surrounding the three Kryptonian Villains on Krypton, was painstakingly re-created in stereo surround sound, as was the flight through space of baby Kal-El's rocket. You'll now actually hear the rocket fly past you in true surround sound quality. Gun shots in the Police/Criminal shoot-out in Metropolis will actually sound like gun shots. Most of the "signature" sounds we've all come to recognize as "Superman" sound effects are still there, they've just been enhanced and enriched to meet today's cinematic standards.
Plans are in place for me to again speak with Michael Thau, so stay stuned for further developments in the near future.