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SATURDAY, JULY 22, 2006

COMIC-CON: RICHARD DONNER

SAN DIEGO -- Richard Donner brought a whole lot of Superman to Comic-Con International on Friday.

Donner was at two Superman-related panels, which included two anticipated announcements: Warner Home Video is relasing Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut on DVD on Nov. 28 and that Donner will be joining Geoff Johns as the writers of Action Comics.

Before any of the announcement were formally made, Donner joined Superman Returns director Bryan Singer, where he showed a clip that Singer said "was incredibly fascinating."

It was an unused scene in which Lois, in the Daily Planet, look at Clark and then draws a hat and tie over a photo of Superman, surmising that Clark is Superman. She confronts Clark, and, to prove her point, jumps out a window, figuring Superman will save her.

Donner had already shot most of the Superman II footage during Superman: The Movie. But as production on the sequel continued, creative differences between the director and the film's producers became irreconcilable and Donner left the project. Although Richard Lester was hired to finish production, he chose to make major changes to the film, leaving only vestiges of Donner's original vision and concepts in the version of Superman II that was ultimately released to theaters.

"I never thought it would see the light of day," Donner said Friday. "It laid in a shelf in London."

Warner Bros. was pressured by many fans for Donner's version and eventually the studio executives told Donner they'd like to see his version of Superman II.

"I said, 'I'd like to see my version of II," Donner said. "Warner Bros. was great. They put up the money and brought all the film over."

Donner said he also used screen test footage -- first of Christopher Reeve before he bulked up for the part and then later of Margot Kidder's screen test with the bulked-up Reeve -- to create one of the pivotal scenes that was never actually filmed.

According to Warner, Donner has become the first director in history to be able to complete a film he left during production with nearly all his footage "in the can." Adding back a substantial amount of that unused footage, the director has seen his original vision restored and brought to fruition.

The new cut restores the Marlon Brando role, filmed for, but not included in the final theatrical release version of Superman II. Brando's performance as Jor-El has finally been restored in key scenes that amplify Superman lore and deepen the profound relationship between father and son.

In addition, Warner Bros. announced an eight DVD set called The Christopher Reeve Collection, which will include a four-disc set of Superman: The Movie, a two-disc set of Superman II and deluxe editions of Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.

Donner is actually re-teaming with Johns, who worked for his as an assistant before his comics career.

The first issue of their run -- which has not had a defined length -- will be Action Comics #844. The artist, as previously announced, will be Adam Kubert.




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