Ready, Set, Gone…

0001000200030007SUPERMANIA is proud to present this world-first exclusive and significant documentation of film history courtesy of SuperFan Jay Towers –

Presumed lost to time deep in the vaults of Elstree Studios and buried amongst the pages of the final shooting script from Cannon Films (also to come!) are these few seemingly inconsequential notes that actually form the breakdown of no less than the entire set requirements for Superman IV: The Quest For Peace including cost estimates (In Sterling!)

The year is 1986 and ambitious producers Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus have invested a considerable sum to secure the rights to the Superman motion picture property from Alexander and Ilya Salkind and and had dedicated the largest budget in the history of their studio to producing this sequel with plans for more to follow.

Unfortunately, as Cannon already had a plethora of films already at various stages in production and was actually in dire financial straits, Superman IV’s original budget of $30 Million plus would steadily erode to approximately half of this during the shoot, where bottom line figures for the sets alone (£5.4 Million – third pic) surely had execs sweating.

Indeed, cutbacks in the finished film are evident where £220,000 was saved replicating sets as established in the previous pictures by filming scenes in the Daily Planet offices on location in an existing office building Milton Keynes, UK and similarly £60,000 saved by utilizing London’s Hippodrome as the interior of the Metro Club.

As further savings were made by shooting entirely in England, epic scenes such as Superman’s arrival on 42nd street would infamously be shot outside Milton Keynes train station rather than New York City and Aldwych Tube Station would become Metropolis Central with minimal dressing.

For some otherworldly environments and cityscapes where battles would take place, however, elaborate sets had to be built.  Part of Cannon’s attempt at industry domination was the acquisition of flailing Elstree Studios, resulting in Superman’s controversial relocation from Pinewood and the loss of its much-needed technical facilities.  Whereas Pinewood’s backlot had devoted acres and millions to the accurate reproduction of a New York street for Superman II, at Elstree façades of buildings were pinned outside its studio walls with backgrounds intended to be composited in by matte paintings later.  This accounts for the visible wobbling and the noticeable rooftops (where the paintings weren’t added).  nonetheless, apparently it cost £1.3 million pounds to achieve this (second pic).

Even Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, once housed by the world-famous 007 stage at Pinewood, was completely rebuilt on a smaller scale at Elstree for a bargain £3 Million (Top pic).

Among the more successful sets were Lex Luthor’s Penthouse lair (£150,000, top pic) and the location set of the Kent farmhouse (at £67,000 one questions if a small unit sent out to the original Canadian locale may have been cheaper) not to mention the sets built for scenes ultimately cut from the finished film entirely (US/Russian conference rooms).

Finally, further evidence of cost cutting is exemplified in the simple memo from Associate Producer Graham Easton (dated 11th Sept, Bottom pic) to all parties dropping a sequence involving the construction of a full-size blimp (see the storyboards here) and the costly appearance of the QEII.

While its well-documented on SUPERMANIA just how and why the 1987 release ended the franchise on such a sour note, its evidence such as this, so rare and so fascinating, that offers further proof that in the initial stages at least, this production was intended to be every bit as epic as its predecessors…

Coming soon – The building of a Metropolis…

Sold..!

DSC_3533DSC_3552DSC_3556DSC_3521-001An unprecedented success with many lots outperforming their estimates by thousands, the Propstore’s Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction made headlines across the prop world while making many a collectors dream come true.

Luckily, SUPERMANIA managed a last-minute pilgrimage to The ODEON BFI IMAX in London to photograph the Superman items on display only hours before they went live.  Below are the highlights of the Super-sales along with the astonishing prices realised –

424.  Contact Sheets – £1,100

425.  Shooting Scripts – £4,750

426.  Autographed Still – £700

427.  Underwater Tunic – £25,000

429.  Large Kryptonian Crystal – £1,700

431.  Promotional Ephemera – £1,600

432.  Autographed Stills – £700

433.  Muscle Tunic – £20,000

436.  IV Script – £350

437.  Pod Prop – £4000

As expected, the well-publicised underwater tunic (second pic) stole the show with the Muscle tunic (third pic) nipping at its shorts at only five grand less.  Less expected were the amounts achieved by some of the smaller lots, with a single autographed still of Christopher Reeve going well above estimate at £700 and a folder full of essentially promotional clippings fetching £1,600 – most of which already present in the SUPERMANIA collection.

While many of these fabulous relics of movie history will take pride of place in private collections, The Starship Pod prop (bottom pic) was bought by Stateside SuperFan and Broadcaster Jay Towers, a prominent figure in Superman collecting and vocal supporter of the classic films.  SUPERMANIA wishes Jay all the best with his his purchase and hope he enjoys it for years to come..!

Going Once…

image-0223image-0227image-0230image-0231image-0232Going under the gavel in in a matter of days and currently on display at the IMAX Odeon in London’s Waterloo, this unprecedented collection of production/screenused treasures from the series of Superman films is presented in catalogue form by Propstore here on SUPERMANIA.

High-end pieces all with estimates set to suit a modest or high budget, this gathering of production ephemera and screenused props represents the finest collection of Superman related material to hit the market since the Ilya Salkind collection was offered by Profiles in History in 2007.

Chief among the lots is the full-size Starship ruin from Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, first positively identified and documented on SUPERMANIA here and presumed lost to storage after the closure of the London Film museum in 2013.  ‘Superman’s Pod’ was obtained by Propstore and now offered in exactly the same condition as it was seen on display (then incorrectly listed as originating from Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie) and is a completely unique piece of Super-history.

Other highlights are the Cosmonaut suits (made by costumiers Bermans and Nathans) from the opening scenes of Superman IV and storyboards from Superman III.  Fans of the original movie and its sequel are catered for also by a pair of scripts and photographic contact sheets and even Supergirl is represented by a superb piece of (ultimately unused) concept art by Chris Achillieos.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bid and own these pieces starts at 2PM (GMT+1) on 23rd of September.  SUPERMANIA would like to extend an advance invitation to the lucky new owners to have their purchases showcased here along with their stories…

Alert, Alert..!

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Fleetingly glimpsed in both Superman: The Movie and Superman II and sharing a grim demise in both movies, the iconic, anonymous Kryptonian guard’s scenes may have been short but left a lasting impression.

In fact, the nameless soldier (played by uncredited actors) in Superman: The Movie had a larger role than the theatrical cut led us to believe, where through footage restored for the TV edits (and later, the Special Edition) revealed the guard was despatched by the council elders to arrest Jor-El and was crushed by falling debris from the eruptions enroute.  Despite apparently having being teleported to Jor-El’s quarters (suspended on wires to convey levitation), the intercutting of the extended version suggests the journey took considerable time, culminating in a bizarre closeup of the soldier’s eyes as he’s wiped out.

A similar guard opens preceedings with considerable style in Richard Lester’s Superman II, where an atmospheric tight shot of the helmet reveals it to be somewhat different than Donner’s version.  Although it appears to be the same design, its lack of 3M material shrouding gives it a smooth finish (decorated with aluminium tape?) and its black lenses replaced by mirrored.  Despite a speaking part this time (Alert, Alert!) his screentime is cut short as he’s dispensed with in a swift attack by General Zod’s cohort Non.

So distinct was the guards design that 30 plus years later, talented Superfan Tim Allen sought to recreate the helmet design using today’s technology –

“I was inspired to re-create this Kryptonian guard helmet from Superman (above) because I felt it was one of those props in the movie that often gets overlooked and I thought the fans of this movie would appreciate viewing a unique piece from the film. I created this CG model purely in 3DS Max using the Mental Ray render and procedural texturing. The helmet was created to fit the average human head so theoretically this model could be 3D printed for display or as part of a costume. It could also be scaled down to either ¼ or 1/6th scale for custom collectible figures/statues..”

Watch this space for updates as the Kryptonian guard potentially rises again as a 1/6th figure exclusive to SUPERMANIA..!

Many Lives, Many Worlds Pt.2…

SMITH SMAN#2 BMcK-002SMITH SMAN#14-001SMITHSONIAN POSTCARD-001Pictures3Courtesy of Superman In Advertising And Media come these exclusive vintage photographs of the artefacts featured in The Smithsonian Institution’s ‘Superman, Many Lives, Many Worlds’ exhibition circa 1988.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of a true American icon, SUPERMANIA continues its retrospective from the star-attended opening (click here) to the significant collection on display and even some memorabilia from the event itself.

While the George Reeves TV show The Adventures Of Superman features prominently behind the plexiglass, the recent release of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace had clearly yielded some treasures under the banner of ‘A New Superman In Hollywood’ where both Christopher Reeve’s Superman Costume featured at one end (top pic) and Mark Pillow’s Nuclearman costume at the other.  Quite why the expensive outfits were mounted on such cheap wooden cutouts is a mystery but faring better is Margot Kidder’s silk dress (second pic) accompanied by no less than Reeve’s Clark Kent glasses and Marc McClure’s bowtie worn as Jimmy Olsen.

Other great items from the movies on show are an original Daily Planet newspaper cover and below it, one of the script drafts for Superman IV by Konner and Rosenthal.  As if the opportunity of seeing these relics firsthand was not enough, there was also an opportunity to purchase exclusive collectibles on the day, such as the advertising postcard (third pic) with superb art from Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and two buttons below from the SUPERMANIA collection pictured with a promotional ad…