Superman: The Movie director Richard Donner is not happy the film’s extended cut is making its way to Blu-ray. The original Superman is rightfully considered a classic among fans, thanks to Christopher Reeve’s iconic performance, the groundbreaking special effects and for bringing the titular hero to life. The movie was an expensive and ambitious production for its era, with Donner being tasked with directing both Superman and Superman II back to back.
The director had frequent clashes with his producers on the movie, and as the release date for Superman loomed it was decided to cease filming on the sequel and focus on finishing the first movie. While Superman proved to be a major success – and one that would influence the genre for decades to come – the relationship between Donner and his producers became so toxic that the director was later fired from the sequel.
Donner recently appeared as a guest on Spocklight: A Star Trek Podcast, where he made his feelings known about the recent release of Superman: The Movie’s extended TV version on Blu-ray. In short, he’s not happy.
It’s terrible. That was an original assembly; it was nothing more than an assembly. And we cut most of the bad s*** out. And in good taste, the producers decided… in those days if you sold a picture to television you sold it by length. The longer the film the more money they got. So they went back and got somebody – not Stuart Baird – to put all the footage back in that we’d taken out.
So now, same thing, in good taste, Warner Bros TV – or whoever the hell stupidly is doing this – just took the same s*** and they’re putting it out to the audience to make a buck. Bad taste.
This extended version runs 45 minutes longer than the theatrical cut, adding plot extensions and restoring deleted sequences. For Superman fans, it’s something of a fascinating curiosity and acts like a whole new version of the story. That said, the movie doesn’t really miss any of the scenes that were removed, and they drag the pace of the film down. Donner also says of the extended edit, “It puts in silly things that I don’t even know why I shot em, but it was on paper so we did it, and then when you look at it you realize 'No, this is demeaning' and out it comes.”
The Blu-ray also comes packaged with the special edition version of Superman, which is Donner’s preferred cut. Donner did get something of a happy ending on the Superman II front, as in 2006 Warner Bros commissioned a new cut that allowed him to restore the footage he'd shot for the film back in the 70's. The end result wasn't perfect - test footage had to be used to complete certain scenes - but it allowed fans to finally see the long-fabled Donner cut after thirty years of waiting.
Source: Spocklight: A Star Trek Podcast