How fitting and proper that, in the 20th Anniversary Year of Santa Claus: The Movie, your greatest Christmas wish should finally and at long last come true:
After years of legal wrangling, and much intense pressure from its many fans (myself among them), the sci-fi magazine Dreamwatch reported that Warner Bros. had given director Richard Donner the green light to oversee a complete restoration of both Superman: The Movie and Superman II. Working with the remnants of a screenplay by Tom Mankiewicz, who, of course, was Creative Consultant on both films, the new Ultimate Edition was released in video stores in the spring of 2006, along with similar Ultimate Editions of the Salkinds' own Superman III and the Cannon Group/Warners co-production, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
At the time that I first shared these remarks with you, the deal had not yet been made official. And because this news was just too darned good to keep to myself, I simply felt it appropriate that it be posted here at KringleQuest.com.
As you Salkind fans out there already know, Superman II has the Man of Steel taking on three supervillains from his own, long-since destroyed home planet of Krypton, even as he prepares to risk fully renouncing his super-powers to be with Lois Lane.
Many Salkind historians already know, as well, that Supermovies I and II were essentially conceived as a single feature by Donner, and that he'd had approximately two-thirds of the film shot and put in the can before the Salkinds fired him and replaced him with director Richard Lester. As a result, many have charged that Lester's Superman II had become an uneven, overly mean-spirited, incredibly campy mess because of the behind-the-scenes backstabbing.
Indeed, by around 2004, the magazine blurb allegedly quotes Margot Kidder as saying, Donner had in fact filmed enough footage to prepare his own Director's Cut, even to the point whereby he was on the verge of lobbying Warner Bros. management to release a full cut of his version. For various reasons, however, nothing came of this.
The blurb also speculates that Ilya Salkind himself might have wanted to play a key role in the preparations for the release of these Ultimate Editions. Ilya was, after all, executive producer of Supermovies I, II and III (Alexander, his father, was of course their Presenter); indeed, even now, there remains the possibility that a potential Ultimate Edition package may yet include a few personal greetings from Ilya himself.
Prior to its merger with Jim Bowers' CapedWonder.com, the former Superman Cinema website featured a complete article from an April 1980 issue of Time Out London Magazine in which Margot lets it all hang out about the SuperII problems. I certainly hope you'll take a look at it, Hiphats.
But, to bottom line it all, old friend: At long last, your Quest is over. Hard to believe that it was September of 1996 when you said to yourself that someone has to step up and give Superman: The Movie the full and proper justice that it rightfully deserves! Folks like you, Bill Williams, GandAlfDC --- you never wavered in your belief that this film needed to be treated properly. And then, in 1998, I joined the party, albeit somewhat limitedly, with these pages, KringleQuest.com --- and I have to say, it was one doozy of a ride. And like you, I was indeed ready for its ultimate conclusion!
Of course, we need to accept that there were two men who didn't live to see the consummation of this incredible saga: Christopher Reeve and Alexander Salkind.
Christopher, I think, would have loved the idea that Superman: The Movie and Superman II would now be given the restoration they deserved; Alexander, on the other hand, would have considered it his ultimate revenge against everybody who had ever trashed him for all the ideas he and Ilya had ever had, from the other Supermovies, to Supergirl and Santa Claus: The Movie, and even, to some extent, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery.
To be honest with you, Hiphats, this is a perfectly good occasion, I think, for you to come back online and let the world know your feelings about this. It matters not to me whether you want to communicate in private or publicly; if you want to speak out in private, you know where to reach me.
In closing, let me say that there were a few significant so-called "movie moguls" in the late 1970s and early 80s; indeed, assuming that you believe the Santa Claus: The Movie making-of documentary, Alexander Salkind himself was one of them. Alexander's been gone from us for some 21 years now; alas, 91-year-old Dino De Laurentiis has also long since passed on. With over 600 productions to his credit, Dino was indeed the last of the truly independent film legends. His was a true era in film history.... one that eventually caused me to mourn.
For George Lucas was right: ours indeed remains a generation grown up without Faerie tales. Great storytelling is always being sacrificed in the name of modern technology. Such was never the case in 1985; I only hope that a new generation of believers will continue the innovations and achievements begun by Alexander and Ilya Salkind, and the many others who followed them, so that our children will one day be able to tell their descendants, as Granny the Storyteller tells her audience at the beginning of Santa Claus: The Movie: