2017 Movie News Archives

September 28, 2017: The Story Behind "Superman: The Movie" Extended Cut

If you're a long time fan of "Superman: The Movie", then you're probably aware of the fact that fans have been discussing various edits and cuts of the film for years. While those lucky (and old) enough to have seen the film in theatres in 1978 will no doubt remember the film fondly, for many fans of that era, the televised version holds fond memories... and created an interest for many that would continue for years.

While "Superman: The Movie" first premiered on December 15, 1978 to over 500 theaters across the USA, the film had a running time of 144 minutes. However, when the Producers of the film (Alexander and Ilya Salkind) were looking to sell the TV rights, ABC offered to televise the movie as a "pay per minute" deal. The Salkinds put together a version of the film running 3 hours and 8 minutes long, adding over 40 minutes of deleted scenes. This 3-hour long version doesn't flow as well as the theatrical cut, slowing down the pace considerably in places. However, seeing this extra footage for some fans became an obsession that would consume years of people's lives, as they tried to compile together from VHS, laser discs and other sources all the footage they'd remembered seeing at a time when most people didn't have recording devices connected to their television sets.

The Salkind's 3-hour cut was commenly referred to amongst fans as the "KCOP Version" due to the fact that its first known U.S. domestic airing was on the Los Angeles TV station KCOP in 1994 (though this version is also known to have run at least twice on WJLA in Washington, DC). A 182-minute version also aired on ABC (derived from the earlier Salkind television cut). And then in 2001 an official extended edition (supervised by director Richard Donner along with film editor Michael Thau) was released on DVD. This is the version that is being packaged together with the 3-hour "Extended Cut" in the 2017 Blu-ray release from Warner Archive Collection.

Below is an effort to list all the footage that you will see in the "Extended Cut" that was not included in the original "Theatrical Cut" you're likely more familiar with when watching "Superman: The Movie":

(1) The Kryptonian security guard who's dispatched to investigate the surplus energy being used in Jor-El's quarters (in the 2001 special edition) is seen traveling to Jor's quarters with the camera focused on the security guard's helmet. As the planet begins to tear itself apart, the security guard's eyes can be seen inside the helmet bulging out with fear.

(2) There is additional footage of the destruction of Krypton than shown in the 1978 theatrical cut or the 2001 special edition. There's additional footage of Jor-El and Lara after they send off Kal-El's rocket. The Kryptonopolis dome is shown collapsing in on itself.

(3) While Pa Kent - played by Glenn Ford - is changing the tire on the Kent truck, his speech about the strange way they found the baby is slightly longer.

Truck (4) There's deleted footage of the Kents driving their truck away from the crash site, with them leaving the rocket behind. Slowly the light in the rocket fades to black.

(5) There's a longer introduction to Clark's high school years on the football field. There's more of Lana Lang cheerleading, more of young Clark walking on the field, and more of the football players scrimmaging. Lana tells the other cheerleaders that they've got to "get it together before Saturday."

(6) After Clark takes the pom-poms from Lana, Lana says to Clark: "I think you're the nicest guy in the whole school." Clark replies: "Thanks. Of course it's probably the job, being team manager and all. But I'd do it for you anyway." Lana then invites Clark to Mary Ellen's as in the theatrical version but it's a slightly longer cut of Clark considering whether to go. After Brad overturns all the equipment, the cheerleaders in the car all say something in unison - the second word is indecipherable but it's "Bad ___, bad Brad."

Lana Lana (7) The sequence of Brad driving with Lana and the other cheerleaders is longer than in the theatrical version. There are several close-ups on Lana - she appears visibly upset about leaving Clark behind.

(8) Instead of Billy Haley's "Rock Around the Clock", the music on Brad's radio in the extended sequence is a more generic 1950s tune.

(9) While not exactly a deleted scene, the actor who portrays young Clark, Jeff East, had his voice dubbed over by Chris Reeve. Any subsequent release of the DVD ought to consider releasing a secondary audio track for the Smallville sequences that uses East's actual voice.

Clark Clark (10) There's additional footage of Clark walking to the North Pole after leaving Smallville.

(11) The scenes of the Fortress of Solitude growing in the North Pole are longer, and there are additional reaction shots of young Clark. This leads into a longer version of the scene where Clark enters the Fortress and, as he gets his bearings, notices what appears to be a control panel.

(12) After Jor-El refers to the arctic hideaway as the Fortress of Solitude for the first time, and tells Clark that they can try and find answers together, there's an extended sequence of Jor-El telling Clark what they will contemplate together: "How does a good man live? What is virtue? When does a man's obligation to those around him exceed his obligation to himself? These are not simple questions. Even on Krypton, there is no precise science which provides us with the answers. I can only tell you what I myself believe. And to this end, I tried to anticipate your questions in the order of their importance to you. So my son - speak."

(13) In Metropolis, after Lois and Clark leave the alley where they were mugged, there's an added shot of the pair getting into a taxi. As the taxi pulls away, the camera pans out and we see Lex's assistant Otis for the first time as he bumps into a meter. Otis then crosses the street and stops in the middle of the street to pick up a coin.

(14) There's an introductory shot of the police officer who eventually follows Otis into the subway. The officer is purchasing a hot dog from a street vendor. The vendor asks: "No mustard or sauerkraut?" The officer replies: "Plain, man, plain. Here's a buck. Go buy yourself a trip to Bermuda."

Cab Otis Hotdog

(15) The other police officer, named Armis, beeps the horn calling his partner over from buying the hot dog. There's a brief scene in the car where they call into dispatch that they have a "suspect under surveillance." Then there is a longer shot of them trailing Otis in their car, and then on foot into Grand Central Station. In Grand Central Station, Otis pulls his hat over his head as he walks through a crowd of uniformed police officers. Then Otis tips his hat as he passes by a woman.

(16) The officer who follows Otis into the subway calls in after he reported Otis as heading onto track 22 that it's actually track 23. After Otis disappears behind the hydraulic door, the officer says: "I've watched him and I think I know how he does it. Out."

(17) After Lex and Otis say in unison, "What more could anyone ask?", there's a cut line by Ms. Teschmacher: "Sunshine? A night on the town instead of under it?" This then leads into the deleted sequence included on disc 3 in the "Ultimate Collector's Edition" where Lex has Otis "feed the babies."

Reporters (18) After the helicopter rescue, Superman flies over the crowd. There's a reaction shot of the female TV reporter (who, in the theatrical version, says "I can't believe it, he got her") where she's amazed and talking to the cameraman. She then points up as Superman flies by. There's a brief shot of Superman flying away from the Daily Planet building, looking back briefly.

Executive (19) There's a longer introduction sequence to the burglar using suction pads to scale the building. He passes by the executive as he heads up the building (the same executive who'll later utter "Nah" when he just misses seeing Superman catch the falling burglar). As the burglar continues scaling the building, there's a cut sequence of Superman silently flying by and spotting the burglar.

(20) The scene with the little girl trying to coax her cat out of the tree is longer. The little girl says: "Come on down you dumb cat."

(21) After Superman rescues the cat, the little girl says to Superman: "She's such a naughty cat. I always tell her not to . . . ." Superman interrupts her: "Now hold on a minute. Don't be too hard on Frisky, OK. You know something? We all get a little afraid of heights now and again."

(22) There's a longer setup of the dialogue of the Air Force One navigator checking the weather in Metropolis. After they find out that the weather situation doesn't look good, there's a dated exchange between two of the cockpit crew. One says: "The old man hates bumping. Better tell him to get rid of his drink." The other replies: "You mean the old man drinks?" The first one then says: "After a mouthful of peanuts, wouldn't you?" This is of course a reference to President Jimmy Carter who was a peanut farmer in Georgia. The crew laugh and that's when the lightning strikes the plane.

(23) In Lex's underground lair, after they've watched the news report about Superman, Otis asks: "Mr. Luthor, what's a myth?" Lex says: "Something not real. Something not quite human. Something like you Otis." Otis says proudly: "I'm a myth."

(24) As Otis brings Lex his robe, he's distracted by Ms. Teschmacher. Otis says: "Ms. Teschmacher, you look so pretty today. I'm gonna take your picture." He grabs a Polaroid camera and snaps a photo but he appears to be holding the camera the wrong way and the flash goes off in his eyes. Lex calls Otis and he returns to bringing Lex the robe.

Robe (25) Lex admonishes Otis for getting the robe wet as in the theatrical version. As Lex walks out of the pool, he's trailed by Otis who tries to squeeze the water out of the robe.

(26) Immediately after Perry White gives his staff of reporters their assignment to land the first Superman interview, and the reporters run out of his office, there's a brief shot of Perry holding up the Daily Planet with the "Caped Wonder Stuns City" headline and looking it over as a telephone rings. The scene then cuts to Jimmy Olsen standing outside of Perry's office talking to the young "go-fer" in the reddish/orange shirt (with the glasses) telling him that "a good reporter doesn't get great stories, a good reporter makes them great." Perry yells out of his office to Jimmy to get him a coffee "black, no sugar". The "go-fer" laughs at Jimmy. Jimmy then shouts at the "go-fer", "You heard him - coffee, black, no sugar". Jimmy shakes his head as the go-fer rushes off. Thanks to Superman Homepage reader Anthony Bennett for bringing this scene to my attention.

(27) Lex and his hench-people are preparing to stop the Army Bird XK-101 missile. The remote-controlled car is skidding all over the road because Otis is driving it. Lex says: "Mr. Otis, do you live in England?" Otis replies dimly: "I don't think so Mr. Luthor." Lex then says: "Then why are you driving on the left side?" Lex grabs the remote from Otis and turns his attention to Ms. Teschmacher. Lex says: "Ready Ms. Teschmacher?" She replies: "Have you ever tried running in high heels?" Then she mutters to herself, "He probably has." Lex then snaps his fingers for everyone to get into place.

(28) After the car is overturned, we see the accident from the POV of the soldiers in the convoy. We can hear Larry Hagman's voice talking about getting an ambulance.

(29) Hagman's military officer is giving Ms. Teschmacher chest massage as he counts off "Hut, two, three, four; hut, two, three, four."

(30) Lex's ambulance pulls up to the accident. Ms. Teschmacher pulls away from Hagman's mouth and she says to him: "I'm OK, I'm OK. What'd you have for lunch? Oooh, mama." Lex then says the line from the theatrical version: "Hi, somebody hurt?". Hagman's character says: "Boy that was fast." Lex says in character: "Fast? When this woman's life is at stake?"

(31) Hagman's character calls for the soldiers to get a stretcher. Instead of anyone getting the stretcher, the soldiers keep passing the order down the chain of command. Hagman screams, "Get a stretcher, go on." All the soldiers then run to get the stretcher. Hagman then turns to Lex: "Anything I can do?" Lex replies: "You've already done it." Lex then whispers to Ms. Teschmacher that she's done very well. Eve repeats what he said. Lex says curtly: "I said that."

(32) Otis finishes entering the codes and eats a marshmallow. He wipes the sweat from his brow and leaves a black mark on his forehead from the magic marker ink on his arm. He puts the panel back on the missile and gets his finger stuck.

Ambulance (33) After Lex asks Otis if he "wants to see a very, very long arm" and attacks him, the back door of the ambulance flies open and Lex is on top of Otis who's been pushed onto a gurney that's hanging out the back of the ambulance.

Sorry (34) There's a longer setup to the Navy Bird XK-101 sequence. The camera pans back to the ambulance where a now-beaten-up Otis apologizes over and over to Lex, saying he got mixed up. Lex tells Otis that it's OK because "there's another XK-101 being launched at the same time." Eve repeats what Lex said. Lex says: "I said that." Then Otis says to Lex, "No she said there's another XK-101 being launched at exactly the same time." Lex angrily says: "Don't tell me that." Ms. Teschmacher says: "But there is another XK-101 being launched at exactly the same time." Lex yells: "I told you not to tell me that." Lex slams shut the back door of the ambulance on Otis and Ms. Teschmacher and yells at them to "Shut up in there!" Lex then straightens his toupee and walks away. The back door of the ambulance opens and Otis sticks his head out: "Mr. Luthor, are you mad?" Otis and Ms. Teschmacher continue to fight with Otis saying "He [Lex] always hits me."

(35) In the truck carrying the wide-load house, Otis begs Lex for a second chance to set the controls on the second missile. Otis says: "I've got experience now." Lex says: "Otis, how would you like the heady experience of being thrown from a moving vehicle?" Otis offers Lex a bite of his chocolate bar. Lex hits Otis's hand away. Then, the scene cuts back to the theatrical version with Lex telling Otis to "get it right this time."

(36) After the line about Otis being a diabetic, Lex continues: "...and he has to have his insulin." The Navy lieutenant replies: "What's he eating chocolate for?" Lex says: "Well that gives him a lot of sugar."

Jimmy (37) There's an establishing shot of Jimmy Olsen at the dam taking pictures.

(38) Lois is in the desert driving with the Indian chief where she's investigating the land sale. The Indian chief tells Lois: "No oil, no uranium, no coal, no precious minerals. Hell no water... not since the government dammed it all up to service those towns on the other side of the mountain. If we still had water, we would never sell our beloved land." Lois says: "My associate, Mr. Olsen, is taking pictures of that dam now, Chief, but what I don't understand is why you would sell out..." That cuts back into the theatrical version of the film.

(39) There's a slightly longer shot of the dogs in Metropolis responding to Lex's ultrasonic message.

Lois and Indian Chief (40) Lois drops the Indian chief off back at his reservation. As he gets out of the car, Lois says: "Chief, listen, I promise my friends and I will do all we can to get to the bottom of this." The Chief thanks her.

Pentagon (41) Missile Control calls the Pentagon. There's a scene of a disbelieving General at the Pentagon. The scene cuts back to Missile Control where an angry Senator is frustrated that, with all the money spent on these missiles, there's nothing they can do to stop this situation. The military officer says, "You got what you paid for." Back at the Pentagon, the General mutters to himself "It can't happen here, it can't happen here." He then picks up the red phone and says "Get me the President."

(42) On a golf course, a secret service agent hears the red phone ring on the Presidential golf cart. He takes the call and runs over to a sand trap and calls down: "Mr. President? Mr. President?" There's a shot of a golf club slicing through the sand. An off-screen voice says, "God damn it, what is it now?" The agent says, "The Pentagon is calling Sir."

(43) Superman tries to catch the Army Bird missile but, because of its deflection system, it circles around him. Superman flies after the missile.

(44) Missile Control realizes the Army Bird missile is headed East. Someone suggests that the bomb is headed to Metropolis. One of the controllers says it's actually headed toward New Jersey. "Jersey? What's in New Jersey?"

(45) As the earthquake begins at the gas station, the nozzle on one of the gas pumps shakes off and gas begins leaking onto the ground. An electrical transformer begins to spark and it's that combination of the gas and the spark that causes the gas station to explode.

Chaos (46) There's a deleted sequence of what appears to be San Francisco row-houses falling apart during the quake with frightened people jumping out of windows and running away from the buildings.

(47) As Superman lifts up the San Andreas fault, there's a deleted sequence back at the San Francisco row-houses with the houses setting themselves upright.

(48) There's a deleted establishing shot that shows Superman is out from underground and heading toward the Golden Gate Bridge.

(49) There's a cut establishing shot of Superman flying toward the train.

(50) The scene of the chaos at the dam and the electrical plant is longer. After Superman flies off, one of the power plant workers says, "Jesus, it's Superman. He must be the one who saved us."

Jimmy (51) There's a deleted shot of Superman pausing in mid-air with Jimmy Olsen and telling Jimmy to take pictures of the dam. Superman says: "Go ahead. Shoot."

Water (52) Superman's makeshift dam irrigates the Indian reservation - Superman has changed the course of a mighty river. The Indians celebrate the water coming onto their reservation. This appears to be what Superman is smiling for before he realizes he's forgotten about Lois.

(53) After Superman tells Lois and Jimmy that he has something he needs to do and flies off, Jimmy yells after him, "At least send for a tow truck." Lois and Jimmy have the talk about Superman caring about her, then Jimmy starts to take photographs of Lois. Lois cries out, "Jimmy! My hair!" She fixes her hair and then says "Now." Jimmy snaps shots as Lois poses. Jimmy says, "Front page, Daily Planet?" He pauses, and says, "Ooh gosh, I didn't have any film."

And there you have it... A comprehensive list of all the extra footage you'll see in the "Extended Cut" of "Superman: The Movie" that was not in the "Theatrical Cut" you're probably more familiar with.

Now you're all set to go ahead and order "Superman: The Movie" Extended Cut and Special Edition from Amazon.com for its release on October 3.

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