Ultimate Superman the Movie Release
Since I was so disappointed in many aspects of the new 4K box set that was just released I thought it would be fun to dream up the ultimate home version of just Superman the Movie. Maybe it’s something that would come for the 50th anniversary in five years.
For packaging inspiration I took a look at another Warners release: Blade Runner. It’s an equally legendary film from the same studio so it’s a good comparison. Several high end boutique labels put out special editions of this movie. It’s notable to say, like Superman, there are several cuts of Blade Runner fans are interested in. The following deluxe editions only include the “Final Cut”. But there are also Workprint, US theatrical, International theatrical, and Directors Cuts which have been released in the past. It seems these labels are more concerned with the collectibility of their packages rather than the best possible release of a film. The exclusion of these cuts makes me think these boutique labels should not be the ones to handle the final release; but they can provide inspiration.
Manta Labs do these fantastic Steelbook sets for their releases. They also did a Batman v Superman edition so Superman the Movie isn’t out of the question. Each release has at least two different slip covers and they offer a “one click” box that includes both versions with extras. The first slip cover has a lenticular image on both sides and the other is plain each with different art. The actual Steelbooks are the same and typically feature classic poster art. The Blade Runner edition even offers a third lenticular version. They include character cards and post cards. Most of their releases have an “in universe item” for example a little monolith from 2001. The Superman version could have a Fortress of Solitude crystal.
Titans of Cult also does great special edition Steelbooks. They come in a big plastic case with unique art and an extra item. Blade Runner comes with a pin and coasters. A Reeve style Superman pin would be sweet. Titans does unique art for their releases, not something that already exists like posters or concept art. If they came up with something great this could be cool but the existing art is already fantastic.
Vice Press Film Vault special editions have an acetate slip-cover detailing the title’s numbered entry in the collection and artwork printed on a rigid clamshell outer case with a magnetic clasp. Each set contains a digipak housing the film, a branded envelope, deluxe art-cards, and an etched and individually numbered crystal display plaque, bearing each film’s title treatment and motif. Like Titans they all have unique new pieces of art for the cover with a matching poster. Some editions have an in-world artifact which in this case could again be a fortress crystal. Blade Runner comes with large format art cards featuring concept drawings, behind the scenes imagery, film trivia, and original theatrical poster artwork. Would love to get those for Superman, the lobby cards are fantastic.
I love the steelbook cover that we got. This is maybe the best possible cover, but it would be nice to have some more art on the back. The S with a Roman numeral 1 is boring. The ideal back would be the Bob Peak art with Superman and Lois. The Reeve flying poster would be second best, but it doesn’t scream back cover. The Peak painting has a flying away feel which would be good for the back.
If we go the single steelbook route rather than a box set we’d need a slipcover so a good book could be included with it. A slip cover with the standard poster on the front and the Superman and Lois Bob Peak painting on the back could be awesome.
Aother option is a lenticular slipcover. We got the lenticular card with the Kryptonian supervillains in the Phantom Zone in the latest box. That would make a great back cover. On the front we could have the flying poster lenticular or even some version of the regular (bad) 4K art lenticular. It would be less bad in a lenticular image.
With a nice slipcover the Steelbook itself can be metallic with an embossed marketing S just like the mylar poster. Maybe the back has the Superman the Movie text again like the mylar posters of the time. This would set it apart from the existing Steelbook. The look would be similar to the recent Disney minimalist Steelbooks.
The main poster itself on the slipcover might not be enough for Warners to release though. They like to have the name of the movie and the star big on the cover so it stands out on shelves. Maybe the J Card around it with all the details and the name of the movie could make up for the cover being minimalist.
For extras this set should include reproductions of the lobby cards. I’d like an booklet with essays similar to Criterion releases filled with behind the scenes photos maybe from Caped Wonder. The book in the latest box isn’t good enough for this release. Just photos from the movie is easy. So much great behind the scenes content exists and if we are going to have a book the opportunity should be taken for something special.
Now for the Good Stuff: The Discs!
Disc One: Theatrical Cut
New 4K scan of the theatrical cut with Dolby Vision. Plus I want the theatrical four channel audio mix in lossless. Throw in the Atmos track if you want since modern viewers would like an Atmos option. This makes it an upgrade over both existing 4Ks in both video and audio.
This disc should include the existing commentary by Pierre Spengler and Ilya Salkind
Disc Two: Special Edition
Preferably a new scan in 4K Dolby Vision but fine if it’s the same Blu-Ray. The theatrical version is the canonical version so it should get the best treatment. This disc should include the Atmos track since this is the version the new sound effects were made for.
This disc should include the existing commentary by Donner and Mankiewicz along with the music only track in hi-res lossless stereo, similar to previous releases.
Disc Three: Extended Cut
Three hour TV cut again preferably a new 4K Dolby Vision scan, but fine if it’s the existing Blu-Ray. I personally love this version and am so glad Warner Archives gave it to us. Any complete package should have this version. This cut is almost a bonus feature so the movie audio track isn’t super critical. It’s not the reference version of the film.
Since a creator commentary doesn’t exist for this version that wouldn’t be possible. But there does exist a commentary track by Caped Wonder Jim & Jay from their podcast September 2020.
Disc Four: Extras
All the existing extras:
- The Making of Superman The Movie TV special
- Taking Flight: The Development of Superman
- Making Superman: Filming the legend
- The Magic Behind The Cape
- Theatrical trailers and TV spots
- Screen tests
We should get some new extras created for this set:
- New documentary featurette about the restoration
- Reeve legacy reunion panel (I’m sure video of this panel exists and would be a nice inclusion)
- La-La Land soundtrack restoration featurette with Mike Matessino (the recent La-La Land release of the soundtrack is incredible, an interview with Matessino detailing this would be awesome)
Importantly, I don’t want a promotional featurette with unrelated talking heads saying how great the movie is like we got on the Fleischer disc. We don’t need the Bugs Bunny cartoons, Fleischer shorts, or Superman and the Mole Men as much as I love them. This set should be tightly focused on this movie.