Revisiting Richard Donner and the crazy backstory of 'Superman'
Veteran director Richard Donner talks about the adventures and behind the scenes antics that went into making the original comic book blockbuster, Superman, in 1978. Plus, an all new banter looking ahead to the big stories of 2017.
Filmmaker Richard Donner recounts his experience directing Superman, from the minute he first got the call (while sitting on the toilet hung over) to the casting of Christopher Reeve and working with Marlon Brando (who refused to memorize any lines). Donner also reflects on the current trend of super-hero movies and why he thinks it may be time for audiences to "grow up." And Michael Schneider and Matt Belloni join Kim Masters for an all new banter about industry stories to watch in 2017.
Photo: Director Richard Donner on the set of Superman with Margot Kidder and Christopher Reeve
Another proposed merger, the recombining of CBS and Viacom, will not be going through, however -- at least at the moment. Can Viacom make its properties strong enough to garner a price that would please CBS shareholders?
Keep an eye on what's happening at HBO. They've only got two seasons left of their hit Game of Thrones, and Westworld isn't coming back until 2018. It's likely they've been kept on a short leash to make the company more appealing to be purchased (by someone like AT&T).
On this New Year's edition of The Business, we thought we'd revisit one of our most memorable conversations from last year. In April 2016, to mark the opening of Batman v Superman, Stephen Galloway at the Hollywood Reporter talked to filmmaker Richard Donner about the crazy backstory behind the making of the original Superman movie.
The origin story of the cinematic Superman, which was a major hit when it opened in 1978, was so entertaining that we thought the only thing better than reading it would be to hear Donner tell it himself. And so he did, when we visited him at his home in the Hollywood Hills.
When Donner got involved with the project through producer Alexander Salkind, Marlon Brando had already agreed to play Jor-El. Donner would cast a then-unknown Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel and Margot Kidder as reporter Lois Lane.
Donner is the veteran director of the Lethal Weapon movies, starting with the original in 1987. Just about a decade earlier, his Superman turned out to be the most expensive film of its time, with a budget that blew past $50 million. But Superman was a big hit that won a special award from the Motion Picture Academy for groundbreaking visual effects.
However, getting there was far from easy as Donner, now an octogenarian, explained. He tells us about conflicts with the scripts, special effects that failed at first, constant budget shortfalls and why Marlon Brando originally wanted his character to look like a donut.