'Superman: The Movie' 4K UHD Blu-ray... it's official.

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by The Hermit, Sep 26, 2018.

  1. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976 Thread Starter

    “Superman: The Movie” 40th Anniversary 4K Blu-ray Release

    Whilst it's great they've given this classic film a new 4K transfer - direct from the original camera negatives - and UHD presentation (with the original 6-track 70mm soundtrack mix getting a new remaster specifically for this release), and even better it's just the definitive theatrical version and not the pointless 'Special Edition' from 2001, it would appear the accompanying 1080p Blu-ray in this set won't be from the same new 4K transfer... which is a dang shame!

    But I'm not complaining... this is a very, very welcome development and kudos to Warners for doing it in the first place. Now hopefully they'll get around to Richard Lester's theatrical cut of Superman II and give that equal treatment... that's one film that would benefit from both a new high-resolution scan from the original camera negatives and a meticulous new remastering for UHD presentation; most transfers of that film in the past have made it look rather drab in comparison's to Donner's vibrant original, so a new hi-res transfer would not only be welcome, but frankly is necessary.

    I await the upcoming reviews for the above new release with baited breath...
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2018
  2. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    Haven't seen this in years and I'm looking forward to throwing it up onto my Stewart film screen.
     
  3. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    The HDR aspect makes me nervous -- if they don't help out the grain a bit, it could look really, really noisy.
     
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  4. genesim

    genesim Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis
    Grain is a part of the film print. I hate how so many technicians want to remove detail that the human eye resolves from frame to frame. It is like some restoration teams are not happy unless the classic films are a DNR mess!

    Warner Bros. has many fantastic restorations and I am sure that this release will be no different. It is true that the first Superman bluray was lackluster but it was from am old scan and was an early release that had already been done on DVD a short time before. This is heavenly news!
     
  5. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    The last thing we need is an "effort to help out the grain". Good lord!
     
  6. Geoffrey Unsworth's cinematography on Superman: The Movie was deliberately aiming for a hazy, almost untouchable look, to quote Richard Donner on this aspect, and it would be a shame to see film grain or colour timing excessively adjusted to bring his work more in line with modern tastes. Also, since this latest transfer was supposedly made from the original camera negatives, that means those responsible will have handled large parts of Superman II as well, due to both of these projects being filmed simultaneously up to a point... I can only hope we'll also eventually see a similar treatment for II, preferably including a new edit that combines both Donner's footage and the scenes later finished under Richard Lester in a cut produced by committee with less bias (and a higher budget) than Michael Thau's disappointing 2006 effort.
     
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  7. Vahan

    Vahan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glendale, CA, USA
    So they'll be able to restore the old sound effects? The tapes were damaged beyond repair when they tried to restore the film in 1997.
     
  8. My understanding is that the sound elements were separate from the film, with the 2001 extended cut of S:TM and Donner's version of II needing to have their audio recreated with new effects in places. At the very least, Film Score Monthly was able to find the isolated soundtrack for release as part of a boxed set covering the entire Christopher Reeve era, and the most recent TV cut issued on Blu-ray had some issues in this department, with the opening theme having to be "flown in" (pun not intended) from another source. I'm very curious to see if the sound will be handled with a similar level of care as at least the 4K transfer...
     
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  9. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976 Thread Starter

    Maybe I'm slow on the uptake, but why would they necessarily need to handle anything of II for the upcoming new 4K restoration of Superman: The Movie? They may have been (largely) shot simultaneously but they're ultimately two entirely separate negatives for two entirely separate films...

    And no new edits for II... please... you already have four official cuts out there; the 127-minute 1980 theatrical cut, the extended television version (however long that is!), the 116-minute Donner Cut originally released in 2006, and now a 122-minute version of that cut recently and rather quietly released on digital streaming services. The theatrical cut should be the one to get any 4K treatment... like I've said, it has it's minor flaws and the Arctic Patrol sequence should rightly be in there (without it, there's a bit of a plot hole... so if they want to remaster and restore that scene back into the film, I'd certainly not object!), but other than that, it's arguably the best version by far.

    The old foley soundtrack stem was apparently either too badly degraded and/or was recorded in mono and not able to be remixed in stereo by the time they got to it in 2000... I've heard both over the years, so I'm not sure which one is accurate, if any.

    The upcoming 4K transfer has remastered the original 6-track 70mm soundtrack mix, so at least we have original sound elements being used for this release...
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
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  10. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    According to Blu-ray.com, the extended TV version is somewhere north of 3 hours (which is amazing to me):

    Superman: The Movie Blu-ray

    I did see it back in the 1980s, but haven't seen it since then. I like the movie enough that I went ahead and ordered it, and I look forward to seeing the extra bits.

    Actually, Superman has three different looks: the weird, cold "Krypton" look; the warm, glowing "Smallville" look with young Clark Kent; and then the "modern" look once we hit Metropolis. Unsworth used different lighting, lenses, and filtration to get those looks, so it's pretty much baked-in to the negative. We couldn't remove it in digital mastering even if we wanted to... and nobody would, especially for a film this classic.

    What is a problem is trying to match different shots that were done at different times, as well as shots that were shot in the front-projection "Zoptic" process, which has some weird contrast issues, plus blue-screen composites that have really heavy grain due to the film emulsions of the late 1970s. There are sequences in the film that go from a normal on-set image to a Zoptic shot to a blue-screen shot and back to a normal shot, which is really hard to manage. And it's even worse if some shots come from IP (which the extended TV version was made from) and camera negative vs. interneg. You can compare that to something on 1/4" tape vs. a dub vs. an LP vs. a cassette... they all get degraded compared to the "original" original. Keeping the grain level consistent is a huge headache.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
  11. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976 Thread Starter

    It was different versions of Superman II that I was referring to, not Superman: The Movie... apologies if I was a little unclear on that.

    The extended television cut of S:TM recently released on Blu-ray is a mind-boggling 188 minutes... roughly 45 minutes longer than the 1978 theatrical cut... Richard Donner has publicly criticized that recent release, and I have to say he's probably right; I wouldn't touch a frame of the original 143-minute theatrical cut that Stuart Baird edited back in the day (and deservedly got an Oscar nom for!)... and just for the record, I have no time for the 2001 'Special Edition' either, so I'm perfectly happy said theatrical cut is the one that's gotten the 4K treatment.

    I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the extended version when you watch it; I suspect once you do, you'll see why much of that stuff was cut in the first place...
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
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  12. mBen989

    mBen989 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scranton, PA
    There's a new version of the Donner cut of II? Any word on what was added or changed?
     
  13. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    BTW, I just stumbled upon an old 1980-ish Zoptic documentary that talks about the special effects technique used on several of the Superman films:



    I still think the Zoptic process looks hokey as hell and is very obviously an "effect," but you're reminded of how charming Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder were together, how great their chemistry was, and how natural Reeve made the flying effect look. Richard Donner points out in the commentary track for Superman that it was Reeve's idea on how he would make small body moves and turn his head in a certain way -- either when on wires, or on the Zoptic rig -- that really "sold" the effect. I thought it was a knock-out then, and it still holds up now. As great as digital VFX are today, they can't take the place of great acting, and when you see this, you believe that Reeve believes he can fly.
     
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  14. genesim

    genesim Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis
    Because other than the notes for the color timing for the camera negative a technician's job is NOT to fix the "flaws" of the original director's/cinematographer's choices.

    The technician doesn't like how it looks...tough. It isn't about what looks inconsistent it is about what was originally shown in the theater.

    Which means digitally altering. Then don't do it.

    The TV cut was a publically released version and I quite like it more than I though I would. The almost death of Ms. Tesccmaker is a hoot. I kinda wish that would get a 4K scan from print as a nice alternative option. Other then the soundtrack flaw I have no complaints.

    I say it quite strongly, the long cut flowed rather well for me. Wasn't bad at all for most long cut movies out there. I wish a true Donner huge 2 movie cut would take place officially. I would buy that in a second.

    I respect the original in all its greatness, but II is a mess no matter the cut.
     
  15. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    Location:
    The West
    Wow. Awesome 80s throwback! What an incredibly complicated rig that was. So easy to forget how difficult FX work was in the pre-CG era.

    Night or dark scenes look reasonable enough, but the bright scenes look comically crude now. You’re so right about acting and story. Without those, no amount of expensive FX is gonna make the movie.

    dan c
     
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  16. The concept of S:TM having three different looks was somewhat dictated by the extreme location changes, with Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewiecz describing the Smallville portion as being inspired by Normal Rockwell or Andrew Wyeth. By contrast, Metropolis introduced more of a kinetic comic book style, which extended to the switch in writing style, tone, and even the editing. I can't speak for the producers as much, but the core creative team responsible for this movie (and much of its immediate sequel) definitely understood the idea of taking viewers on what turned out to be an epic three-part journey. As for how seriously Christopher Reeve took this role, there are various quotes from other cast members about how he'd often remain in character between takes, and I just love that he once tried performing a Superman-like rescue in costume, only to completely break down once he noticed what he'd tried doing! From letting his physical presence do much of the work instead of overacting, to how he'd bank when turning "in the air" (supposedly carried over from his experience as a pilot), Chris evidently considered the idea of portraying Superman equally important as Donner or Mankiewiecz, and between all three, we got a somewhat faithful cinematic experience that also didn't take itself too seriously, yet managed to mostly avoid falling into camp territory.

    Despite a few minor problems, I still don't believe that the theatrical cut of II has been surpassed, and Donner's extended version of S:TM from 2001 is probably the perfect balance for any fans who want to see more of Chris without the blatant padding of the Salkind-approved three-hour broadcast cut. Do we really need to see the Fortress of Solitude being constructed from every conceivable angle, or Otis being followed through Metropolis in real time? Sure, I've since added this new version to my collection, but it's certainly not the definitive treatment. Although I'm happy enough with Richard Lester's approved cut of II, I'd still love to see what could be done with this sequel if a more partial editing committee was given the task of producing a blend of scenes filmed by Donner and Lester, rather than one co-director receiving emphasis over the other. Oh, and Lester's name absolutely deserves to be up there in the credits along with those of his own colleagues. Would it be such a crime to acknowledge that II was ultimately brought to the screen by two directors, regardless of the backstage drama that led to this being necessary?

    Finally, I'll agree that many of the daytime shots in S:TM and II looked a little rough around the edges, but how much of that was due to the tight schedule instead of any limitations with the technology? Although there were obviously some refinements over the course of two years, III had infinitely better flight scenes in daylight, even if the actual story and decision to arguably push Richard Pryor as this film's main star put a lot of people off. If you have the stomach for an even more cringe-inducing follow-up, Supergirl just about redeems itself with some even more impressive special effects, though it's also perhaps the worst - excluding IV, which had very different reasons for turning out so badly - thanks to a dreadful script that was ruined further in editing, plus the end confrontation being far too ambitious for even a big budget superhero project.
     
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  17. genesim

    genesim Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis
    Doesn't look crude to me (I am speaking about the Zoptic). It looks surreal like the Vertigo animated scene. It has a quality that transcends time because it makes you focus on the actors and see things from their eyes which means that even the sites are a pale imitation of what they are feeling.

    When you come back to them hovering around in the sky above the clouds that leads to her fall...you believe it because of what you saw distorted before. When they are taken into each other's arms one moment later it is like a part 3 that takes you to an even higher place that seals the romance to nirvana.

    Like I have said before, those that know...know...those that don't wish they did.
     
  18. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    Location:
    The West
    To clarify I was talking specifically about clips in the demo reel, not Superman: The Movie. The film is special to me and still manages to keep me in that world in spite of some dated FX shots. There’s nothing “comically crude” there IMHO. Watch the demo reel Vidiot posted and you’ll see what I meant.

    dan c
     
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  19. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Location:
    Alexandria VA
    I thought the TV "Superman" was a chore to watch - fun once for curiosity reasons but waaay too long and slow!

    Superman: Extended Cut [Blu-Ray] (1978)
     
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  20. captainsolo

    captainsolo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    I’ve been following the rumors for months but what worries me is:
    That the hdr will not mess with the intricate and very difficult to transfer photography-AND fix the color issues from the previous theatrical BD without causing new ones.
    The new Atmos mix is likely from the 70mm as stated but I’d much prefer it encoded straight as 4.0, 4.1 or 5.1. Hopefully this finally brings back the better separation and amazing mono to stereo credit opening from the 1991 Laserdisc release.

    Sadly they’re dumping the ‘78 Stereo track and didn’t include the rare mono version.
     
  21. genesim

    genesim Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis
    Ok I admit a big part of it was more scenes of Ms. Teschmacher. :D

    Didn't the 70mm mix have the same stems? Should downmix at least.

    The loss of mono sucks though.
     
  22. Encuentro

    Encuentro Forum Resident

    My fondest memories of Superman: The Movie are not of the theatrical release. They are of sitting cross-legged in front of the television for two or three night event. I suppose it doesn’t translate as well to Blu-ray, but I appreciate some of the additional footage, particularly Superman being shot, frozen and hit with a flamethrower before entering Luthor’s lair and Miss Tessmacher being dropped down the elevator shaft. I know the former made it into the Director’s Cut. I’m not sure about the latter. I’ve never seen the Director’s Cut despite owning the recent TV Cut/Director’s Cut combo release.
     
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  23. genesim

    genesim Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis
    I remember it being a two parter leaving Lane mid fall. Good times.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
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  24. The Hud

    The Hud No More Mr. Nice Guy

    I will wait for a review of the 4K disc, and if it is an improvement, I will get it. One of my favorite movies, after all!
     
  25. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    It's actually clear from the original shooting script that they intended for the three sections of the film to look very different from each other:

    https://www.supermanhomepage.com/movies/superman_I_shoot.txt

    The American Cinematographer article on Unsworth's lighting went into this as well. (I wish it was online, but unfortunately it's not.)
     

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