“Planet ‘Copter One…”

Another SUPERMANIA exclusive – From a bulk lot of production ephemera to be premiered here – unpublished stills taken from negatives of the full-size Daily Planet helicopter (photographer unknown) at rest outside the world-famous 007 stage in Pinewood Studios, England 1977.  This 1:1 JetRanger shell was one of a series of props and models used to achieve the famous ‘Double Jeopardy’ sequence.  Made lighter to accommodate being suspended on wires to maintain the illusion of Superman holding it, this chopper was also used in the shots where the tail tears through the Planet control room and for when the engine explodes on the ledge.  Like many iconic pieces of Movie history, the fate of the above prop is unknown but the fully-functioning version apparently went on to appear in the opening sequence of ‘For Your Eyes Only’ a few years later…

Another Planet…

PH_LondonPH_PostcardFlying_MiniatureStar_Ship_Miniature

A new-concept eatery endorsed by Hollywood heavyweights Schwarzennegger, Stallone and Willis, the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain offered its clientele the unique experience of dining at the Movies. The London site was opened in 1993 with massive press coverage and attended by a galaxy of stars, an event gradually repeated all over the world.

Besides the menu (offering some cuisine using recipes from Schwarzennegger’s mother) the decor was an astonishing array of genuine props culled from blockbuster movies instantly making it a museum-like attraction for fans. Indeed, its UK status meant James Bond was well-represented by having an entire section devoted to 007 memorabilia in a gun-barrel enclosed seating area.

Pictured above are the two exhibits donated by special effects artist John Evans which had never before been in public exhibition – the Crystal StarShip miniature and special effects Superman flying puppet. Encased in clear acrylic, the intricate model ship was approx. two feet tall and although some pylons were missing was in excellent condition given its fragility. On closer inspection the centre pod was a bizarre fusion of glitter and cotton wool.

The Superman figure was suspended from the ceiling and was quite large at approx four feet long. Though lacking cape and with perished hands the figure bore an unmistakable likeness to Christopher Reeve and was also notable for being clad in a costume clearly made from the same fabric as the full-size versions. A set of umbrella-style poles were still intact on the back indicating the figure was used for flying sequences in some capacity as again this was the same method used for animating the cape worn by Reeve himself.

As the chain expanded during the nineties and to keep the decor fresh, a decision was made to circulate the props on display from site to site – this meant both Superman pieces and many others would disappear from the London restaurant after a few years and re-used. The current whereabouts of both of these great examples is sadly unknown…

From the top, exclusive footage of the opening party (Christopher Reeve is interviewed at 1:43), European magazine coverage, a Planet Hollywood Postcard featuring the interior of another site (can anybody identify this? The Superman puppet is visible top centre) and photographs taken by SUPERMANIA on a visit…

Flying In Miniature…

The first of many posts to come chronicling Superman props displayed in Planet Hollywood restaurants around the world.  Above is one of the late Derek Meddings‘ intricately detailed flying miniatures currently exhibited in the London site. The figure pictured was about 8″ long made from resin and sporting a cloth cape (complete with hand-drawn yellow shield!).  These models were often ‘flown’ on invisible thread by way of a channel bore straight through the body and would have been utilized in scenes such as Superman chasing the flood after the Hoover Dam burst – Photographs by me…