The Fifth And Final Word…

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In continuation of this revised post charting the history of the aborted fifth and final Superman Movie starring Christopher Reeve, presented below for the first time anywhere is transcript from a Q&A (video above) at the 1994 Atlanta Dixie Trek Convention where the man himself responds to the question; “How true is it that Superman V was in Pre-Production..?”

I don’t know – It was going to be made…In Orlando, Florida at the…Universal had got new studios opening down there.  And the good news would’ve been, that Ilya Salkind and Alexander Salkind who had made the first movie and the second movie would be back – they had bought the rights back from Golan-Globus which I think is good news. 

But what happened was, they basically, I think started to hire some technical people and were talking to directors…and got a script written but never…came to me…ahead of time.  And I had been so bruised by the really…everything about Superman IV, I mean I’m just so apologetic and…what can I tell you folks, you know its really sad that that happened…Superman IV.  I think…Superman IV had the potential to be a very good movie but it needed to be told on an epic scale – it need to be big-time movie-making, and it wasn’t.  I’ll give you one example of what I mean by big-time movie-making versus not.  I had basically worked on the story with Konner and Rosenthal who wrote the script – we planned the story out together and they wrote a screenplay and we talked one time about a scene – and of course –  this was 1986 and the Nuclear race was still important and Reagan had failed with Gorbachev at a summit meeting in Geneva, the Nuclear threat was still very much alive, the Russians had been referred to as an evil empire, already if you remember back in those days, and so the idea of Superman getting rid of Nuclear weapons seemed like a reasonable thing to do, after all, Superman had been used in World War II to sell War bonds, y’know, if this is something they didn’t know, you could get in sight with real world, when it needs to be…good…quality. 

So, we had envisioned a scene where Superman has decided- after spending time at the Fortress of Solitude- that he will intervene in this arms race, and that he was going to land on 42nd street, on the double yellow line right in the middle of the street and then walk down the street to the United Nations which is the end of the street, on the East river and he was going to give a speech to several nations of the world.  And of course people will be pouring out of buildings, and buses and it would be like the Pied Piper, y’know, thousands of people walking down the street, and I had the idea of him walking rather than flying actually from watching Jimmy Carter get out of his motorcade in his inauguration in Washington, I thought it was a very inspiring moment, meeting people. 

So, anyway, we had all this and we were really excited about it and to make a long story short, when the moment came in the actual filming of Superman IV, where he talks to the United Nations, it was shot in an industrial park in the British midlands in the rain in November with twenty extras and a few pigeons thrown in for atmosphere.  And then they wondered why they can’t make the movies take off.  All the thinking was like that to be very honest with you, because Golan-Globus – great deal makers, they went around and bought a lot of stuff, they bought Masters of the Universe, they bought Captain America, they bought this one that one and the other one, thinking, well, you just, y’know, it’s Saturday morning cartoon kiddies stuff, we can just throw it out there and be fine, in my opinion not respecting the audience.  Not respecting what the audience…deserves to see, and…they paid a big price for it…So…

This is the thing, truthfully, I would’ve done Superman V, contrary to anything you read in the papers or will read, but I’ll tell you the truth here and now, if they’d showed me – this is back to the Salkinds again a few years ago – if they’d showed me a brilliant script for Superman V, and a commitment that they were gonna spend in today’s dollars the kind of money that was spent for the talent we had on Superman I, I would’ve been the first person to sign up.  In the absence of that I thought it’s better to stay home, and that’s really what happened…”

Photos courtesy of Jim Bowers.  For More on Reeve’s appearance at Dixie Trek, read the article on Capedwonder.com

SuperSynthesbian….

The dawn of the Digital age presents many possibilities as yet fully unexploited – the concept of ‘resurrecting’ an actor for a posthumous appearance is still in its infancy but constantly advancing. See above digital renderings of the late Christopher Reeve (by artists I only wish I could identify to give them the full credit for their incredible work) with the heft and stature of age as he would, could (and should) appear in an animated version of ‘Superman V‘. Other artists have gone one better and put the images in motion – see the best examples here and here. One can only hope in future the Movie series could be concluded in a fashion befitting of the performance emulated here and to date, unsurpassed…

In Pre-Production..?

SV_Poster Elstree_Plan Thorn_MemoSV_VarietyThough audience and critical response to Superman IV: The Quest For Peace had been derisory, Cannon films forged ahead regardless by announcing a fifth picture only three months after its failure with an apparent plan to use culled footage from the subplot of IV as the basis for a new feature. (See the deleted scenes here)
This incredibly rare promo (top pic) confirms the film was in ‘Pre-Production’ with rumours director Albert Pyun was attached (and presumably Christopher Reeve with whatever conditions he demanded just to get him back in the role).  Sadly, like a glut of other announced projects, (among them Masters of The Universe Part II, part one ironically responsible for Superman IV‘s cut budget) the film went unrealised due to the collapse of the Cannon Group, whereupon the rights reverted back to the Salkinds who would proceed with their own doomed attempt to bring the Man Of Steel back to the big screen.

The priceless pieces of memorabilia shown above were salvaged from the refurbishment of Elstree studios, remodelled soon after Cannon’s collapse.  Along with the original studio layout (second pic) and original Thorn EMI internal memo was this incredible evidence that a fifth Superman feature was indeed a reality.  A SuperFan by the name of Paul passed them onto me with this description;

This is a mini poster for the cancelled, never made film Superman V. To quickly explain where I got this, I grew up in Borehamwood – home of Elstree Film Studios where Star Wars (and Superman IV) were made. In the late 80’s The Cannon Group owned the studios before much of it was demolished. In late 1987 or early 1988 (I can’t remember when but I do remember it was cold winter day) I was working with my father gutting the valuable stuff from the soundstages that were being demolished. Being a curious teenager I was raiding the trash looking for stuff. I found a collection of framed mini posters most in smashed glass frames. I later found out these were hung along the corridors coming from the main reception area. I took a few of these that interested me (Masters of The Universe, Superman, Spider-man) and I’ve kept them all these years. Superman V was never made but Cannon had started work on it…

My sincere thanks also go to SuperFan William S. Wilson (see his amazing Movie blog here) for securing an original copy of the ad taken from the pages of daily Variety (bottom pic – on the rear: Delta Force II) and adding this grail item to my collection after a long and exhaustive search…