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Superman The Motion Picture Anthology U.S. Artwork

 

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Superman The Motion Picture Anthology Specifications

Warner Home Video released the Superman: The Motion Picture Anthology Blu-ray box set on June 7, 2011 in the U.S., June 13, 2011 in the U.K., and July 29, 2011 in Germany. It was also released in Poland, Japan, Latin America (5 disc set), France (5 disc set) and the U.K. (5-disc set). Spain and Germany have also released select individual Blu-ray titles from the Anthology.

The U.S. 8-disc release includes Superman-The Movie: Original Theatrical, Superman-The Movie: Expanded Edition, Superman II: Original Theatrical, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, Superman III: Original Theatrical, Superman IV-The Quest for Peace: Original Theatrical and Superman Returns: Original Theatrical – all for the first time with DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio (see * below for exceptions).

Purchase on Amazon.com for $90.99.

Purchase on Amazon UK for £36.99.

Purchase on Amazon.de (German) for EUR 54,97.

Bill Hunt at Digital Bits did some checking with Warner Home Video about the exact video and audio specs of the films in this new anthology.

Bill wrote: “I’ve clarified with WHV that new HD masters have been done for the theatrical cuts of Superman-The Movie, Superman II, Superman III and Superman IV in the BD set. The expanded version of Superman-The Movie is a newer 1080p master than was used for the previous BD release, with extensive MTI dirt clean-up. Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut and Superman Returns are the same BD compressions as before. The Fleischer Superman animated shorts are SD only. On the audio side: All films have 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtracks except Superman IV: The Quest for Peace which is 2.0 DTS-HD MA. Superman III’s 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix is new – the DVD only had 2.0.”

Bill also wrote: “The Science of Superman documentary included in the set was a Circuit City-exclusive with the release of Superman Returns, so this is its first wide release and also its first in HD. The Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman is also seeing its first HD release here. Not only are those two in HD, but we’ve also learned that the never-before-seen Return to Krypton alternate opening scene from Superman Returns will be included in full HD in this set.”

CapedWonder™.com received direct audio confirmation from WHV, responding with the following statement: “For SUPERMAN (1978 Theatrical), we’re including the remixed 5.1 DTS-HDMA, and the original theatrical 2.0 as DTS-HDMA. The 5.1 contains enhanced sound effects, same as was on the [2001/2006] DVD. The original theatrical 2.0 does not contain these extra sound effects.” So, in other words, Superman-The Movie theatrical will have two audio mix options – the original 1978 mix that most of you know and love so well (in DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio) and the 2001/2006 remixed & enhanced sound effects “Thau” mix (in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio).

CapedWonder™.com also received confirmation from Warner Home Video that the three 2001 Superman-The Movie documentaries, “Taking Flight: The Development of Superman”, “Making Superman: Filming the Legend” and “The Magic Behind the Cape”, will only be available in standard-def on the Superman-The Motion Picture Anthology Blu-ray box set (on disc #2). WHV has also confirmed that the Anthology is NOT available as a standard-def DVD set.

Disc #1
· Superman-The Movie: Original Theatrical
*(2001 remixed & enhanced sound effects mix in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and original 1978 mix in DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio)
· Commentary by Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler (Original Theatrical Version)
· The Making of Superman: The Movie [1978 TV special]
· Superman and the Mole-Men [1951 feature]
· Warner Bros. Cartoons
Super-Rabbit [1943 WB cartoon]
Snafuperman [1944 WB cartoon]
Stupor Duck [1956 WB cartoon]
· Trailers

Disc #2
· Superman-The Movie: Expanded Edition
· Commentary by Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz (Extended Version)
· Taking Flight: The Development of Superman
· Making Superman: Filming the Legend
· The Magic Behind the Cape
· Screen Tests
Superman
Lois Lane with Optional Commentary
Ursa
· A Selection of Restored Scenes
· Additional Music Cues
Main Titles
Alternate Main Titles
The Council’s Decision
The Krypton Quake
More Mugger/Introducing Otis
Air Force One
Can You Read My Mind (Pop Version)
· Music Only Track (Donner Cut)

Disc #3
· Superman II: Original Theatrical
· Commentary by Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler (Original Theatrical Version)
· The Making of Superman II [1980 TV special]
· Deleted Scene
· First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series
· Fleischer Studios’ Superman
Superman
The Mechanical Monsters
Billion Dollar Limited
The Arctic Giant
The Bulleteers
The Magnetic Telescope
Electric Earthquake
Volcano
Terror on the Midway
· Theatrical Trailer

Disc #4
· Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
· Commentary by Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz (Donner Cut)
· Introduction by Richard Donner
· Superman II: Restoring the Vision
· Deleted Scenes
· Famous Studios’ Superman
Japoteurs
Showdown
Eleventh Hour
Destruction, Inc.
The Mummy Strikes
Jungle Drums

The Underground World
Secret Agent

Disc #5
· Superman III: Original Theatrical
· Commentary by Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler
· The Making of Superman III (1983 TV Special)
· Deleted Scenes
· Theatrical Trailer

Disc #6
· Superman IV – The Quest For Peace: Original Theatrical
*(original 1987 mix in DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio)
· Commentary by Mark Rosenthal
· Superman 50th Anniversary Special (1988 TV Special)
· Deleted Scenes
· Theatrical Trailer

Disc #7
· Superman Returns: Original Theatrical
· Requiem for Krypton: Making Superman Returns
Pt. 1 Secret Origins and First Issues: Crystallizing Superman
Pt. 2 The Crystal Method: Designing Superman
Pt. 3 An Affinity for Beachfront Property: Shooting Superman- Superman on the Farm
Pt. 4 An Affinity for Beachfront Property: Shooting Superman- Superman in the City
Pt. 5 An Affinity for Beachfront Property: Shooting Superman- Superman in Peril
Pt. 6 The Joy of Lex: Menacing Superman
Pt. 7 He’s Always Around: Wrapping Superman
· Resurrecting Jor-El
· Deleted Scenes including the never-before-seen original opening to Superman Returns
· Bryan Singer’s Journals – Video production journals
· Trailers

Disc #8 Additional Bonus Material
· Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman [Hi-Def]
· You Will Believe: The Cinematic Saga of Superman
Pt. 1- Origin
Pt. 2- Vision
Pt. 3- Ascent
Pt. 4- Crisis
Pt. 5- Redemption
· The Science of Superman [Hi-Def]
· The Mythology of Superman
· The Heart of a Hero: A Tribute to Christopher Reeve
· The Adventures of Superpup [1958 TV pilot]

 

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CapedWonder™ Superman The Motion Picture Anthology Review

by Jim Bowers

A copy of the Superman Motion Picture Anthology Blu-ray Box Set arrived in my mailbox from Warner Home Video in early June 2011. Really excited, I immediately ran up the stairs to my home theater and watched all of the Christopher Reeve feature films and the ‘Return to Krypton’ deleted scene from Superman Returns.

The ‘Return to Krypton’ deleted scene from Superman Returns was excellent. Here are some screenshots taken with my iPhone:

Since Superman-The Movie is my favorite of the Christopher Reeve Superman series, I have focused most of the detailed observations on this film. All of the films were viewed in my home theater equipped with a 100 inch Stewart Grayhawk RS G3 front projection screen and a Digital Projection dVision DLP projector, with a 7.2 surround sound system capable of decoding DTS, PCM, etc.

SUPERMAN-THE MOVIE

Here are the four versions I reviewed and compared:

1. 2001 DVD (select scenes)
2. 2006 expanded Blu-ray
3. 2011 expanded Blu-ray from the new Anthology
4. 2011 theatrical Blu-ray from the new Anthology

Keep in mind that I did not review the 2006 expanded standard def DVD, but if memory serves correctly, I believe that many scenes had a slightly different crop and color cast from those seen in the 2001 expanded release, so likely that 2006 release was mastered from the 2006 HD transfer used to master the 2006 expanded Blu-ray.

The screenshots I’ve featured below were taken off of my 100” home theater screen with an iPhone…they were not generated from the discs on my computer (a 2014 project). With that said, these are not very accurate depictions of the true quality (and cropping) of the Blu-rays. These screenshots are actually more contrasty and less sharp that what I saw on the screen, but they do serve as adequate illustrations of what I’ll be explaining.

My Observations:

1. The new DTS 2.0 (2011 theatrical Blu-ray) and DTS 5.1 (2011 expanded Blu-ray) audio mixes are excellent throughout. My preference is the 1978 original mix. My ears tell me that this new DTS 2.0 is more impressive than heard on any previous home video release, and is certainly the closest to what I remember hearing 14 times in my local theater back in 1978. The expanded, or “Thau”, mix, although impressive for its dynamic range and select sonics, is nosier now than ever, and a bit irritating and overblown at times.

2. Picture clarity is excellent upon first viewing of each version. At first glance, both the 2011 theatrical and 2011 expanded Blu-rays seem identical to the 2006 expanded Blu-ray…not the case. Warner Bros. told Bill Hunt from Digital Bits (and just recently confirmed on Blu-ray.com) that the 2011 expanded Blu-ray was derived from a newer 1080p master than the one used to create the 2006 expanded Blu-ray (with extensive MTI dirt clean-up), and the 2011 theatrical Blu-ray was minted from a new HD master.

3. Upon first viewing, both 2011 Blu-rays had no major or problematic dirt or debris (with the exception of the sky in the first Smallville train shot and an inherent hair in the gate briefly visible just prior to Clark’s conversation with Jor-el in the Fortress), any artifacting and banding present did not detract, and film grain seemed natural, with an increase in grain in some effects shots. If any DNR was used, it was not apparent.

4. The 2011 theatrical Blu-ray has one unique visual difference from the 2001 DVD, 2006 Blu-ray and 2011 expanded Blu-ray. This is a VERY small and nearly fleeting difference which I explain further below.

5. What version of Superman-The Movie do I like best so far between 2001 and 2011? The 2011 theatrical cut with the original sound mix (also my favorite of the entire four movie series). Overall, it has the most pleasing picture and sound in my home theater configuration for my tastes. Although Blu-ray.com’s review indicates more potential artifacts and banding in some areas of the theatrical release’s picture, I enjoyed what appears to be (upon first viewing) less contrast and blown out highlights more often than not, somewhat more natural skin tones (particularly on the Lane apartment set), and slightly more detail in some of the shadows. I also very much preferred being able to see, once again, Superman in the rocket’s exhaust trail as he ascends to space, and the (nearly 100%) wire removal from Lois and Superman’s balcony takeoff.

6. The disc menus (and the sequel disc menus) have definitely become much less imaginative and intuitive with each release since 2001. The 2001 animated silver shield is my favorite by far!

Select scene variations between the three Blu-ray releases:

1. The Krypton planet explosion:
The 2001 DVD explosion is the “cleanest” of the releases, in other words, the studio room and curtains (with a wrinkle in the fabric in the lower left side of the frame) are the least visible of all the releases listed above. See the screenshot showing the room and curtains taken from the 2011 theatrical Blu-ray – the other Blu-rays look identical.

2. The balcony takeoff of Superman and Lois:
Both actors’ sets of wires are visible in the 2001 expanded DVD, 2006 expanded Blu-ray, and 2011 expanded Blu-ray, but have been about 90% removed (mostly Lois’) for the 2011 theatrical Blu-ray. See the screenshot taken from the 2011 theatrical Blu-ray.

3. Superman saluting Lois and departing from her apartment:
This is something I am very happy about – The black vertical line that runs the length of Superman’s body as he smiles, salutes Lois, turns and flies off her balcony is 98% gone on the 2011 theatrical and expanded Blu-rays. It is visible in the 2006 expanded Blu-ray and 2001 expanded DVD. See the screenshot showing Superman saluting Lois. I pointed this out to Michael Thau after viewing his advance copy in April 2001 – he said he and his colorist, David Ludwig, never noticed it during the remastering process – really??!??

4. Superman descends before drilling though the street in search of Luthor’s lair:
This is one of the most puzzling of the all differences I spotted. It doesn’t appear that Michael Thau color corrected Superman’s blue tunic color in this scene in the 2001 expanded DVD as he did in other bluescreen shots (such as Frisky’s and Jimmy’s Hoover Dam rescues). That changed in the 2006 expanded Blu-ray, as well as the 2011 expanded Blu-ray, but NOT in the 2011 theatrical Blu-ray! See the screenshot with the bluer Superman from the 2011 expanded Blu-ray. Now here’s the puzzling part – in the 2011 theatrical Blu-ray Superman (the less bluer version) suddenly DISAPPEARS just before the aerial scene cuts to Superman landing on the street. This is the “fleeting” difference I was referring to in point 4 above. What the heck?

5. Superman flies the XK-101 rocket into space:
I clearly remember seeing in the theaters the little Superman inside the rocket’s exhaust trail as he flies it into space (just before Lex’s famous “Miss Teschmacher!” scream), but because of the way that the 2001 expanded DVD was remastered (slightly too contrasty/punchy for my tastes with somewhat blown out highlights), Superman disappeared into the brighter trail. This is also the case in the 2006 expanded and 2011 expanded Blu-rays. However, Superman is back in the 2011 theatrical Blu-ray, making the scene that much more believable in my book! See Superman in the screenshot from the theatrical release.

THE THREE SEQUELS

All and all, I was surprised and pleased with the quality of the sequels. Superman III was the best looking in my view. With the time and budget given to Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging to master these sequels, the results are darn good. Hopefully you’ll agree.

Here are some of my observations:

1. A noticeable improvement in picture clarity over all previous releases. Skin tones were natural (some exceptions in Superman IV), with good, rich blacks, and reasonably good detail in the shadows. The shimmering element of Superman’s blue tunic fabric was more obvious in many Superman IV scenes than I ever remember seeing before.

2. The high-def transfers and remasters had no apparent dirt, and film grain seemed natural and more consistent, with an increase in grain in some effects shots. DNR (digital noise reduction) was minimal and did not detract from the overall picture. There was definitely MUCH less noise, dirt and foreign matter in most of the optical effects (bluescreen) scenes than seen in any previous releases – this is particularly apparent in Superman IV…watch the scenes of Nuclear Man and Superman flying towards the camera…BIG improvement.

3. Wire removal/reduction appears to have been applied to about 95% of the scenes where wires were obvious/fairly obvious in previous standard-def DVD releases. The harness wire attachment seen on Chris Reeve’s hip in Superman IV‘s space fighting scenes with Nuclear Man is still visible, as well as the wires on the group of people who are levitated in the city. I was most thrilled to see that there were absolutely NO VISIBLE WIRES in Superman II‘s landing with the Niagara Falls boy, or Superman III‘s acid plant rescue and junkyard landing!

4. Quality and consistency of the Christopher Reeve’s skin tones and costumes in Superman IV varied greatly in optical effects (bluescreen) scenes (skin tones also varied somewhat in Mark Pillow’s skin). The color of Chris’ blue tunic varied from a rich blue (non-optical scenes), to a faded blue, to a slight teal, to a light, medium and dark green (most noticeable in the Statue of Liberty scenes). Yellow in the shields and belt varied from near-accurate to almost white in optical scenes.

5. My theater projector did not reveal any black curtains on the moon set in Superman IV. Quality of blacks and shadow detail were very good in all moon scenes.

6. DTS sound mixes were pleasant with fairly good separation of voice and sound effects, and certainly sounded better than heard in any previous releases.

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