Oooooooooo boy. Exciting times at BMT HQ. The next set of films nail two (that’s right, two!) different dates on the BMT calendar! “Egad! How is that possible? My life is shattered by the revelation. I love reading this email and perusing the BMT website and didn’t see this coming!” cry our ever-growing crowd of adoring fans. It’s very possible when you have a hot piece of IP like Superman. Even after releasing the critically reviled Superman III, Hollywood still decided to go DJ Khaled on us and bring us ANOTHER ONE: Superman IV: The Quest For Peace. These films hit the blockbuster months of June and July and are some of the classics of the major motion picture bust. Let’s go!
Superman III (1983) – BMeTric: 67.9
(With some fits and starts this has got a serious BMeTric going now. This has had a pretty solidly low and steady sub-5 rating for years and years now, which I think suggests it will be quite low. Very possibly entertainingly bad.)
Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars – Appalling sequel trashes everything that Superman is all about for the sake of cheap laughs and a costarring role for Richard Pryor, as a computer operator who unwittingly gives villainous Vaughn a chance to conquer the Man of Steel. Director Lestor’s opening slapstick ballet is a funny set-piece, but doesn’t belong in this movie.
(A movie not-funny comedic take on Superman? I’m in. Being a huge fan of things like Brewster’s Millions with Pryor, which is of the same era, I can already envision what this will feel like, and just how unabashedly not-Superman that seems like it would be is weirdly charming. In a bad movie sort of way.)
(Ha! That looks so dumb. Sigh. Richard Pryor just seems so out of place. Maybe it could have worked a bit with someone else as the computer operator and pull back a bit on the comedy, but this looks like a travesty.)
Directors – Richard Lester – (Known For: Superman II; A Hard Day’s Night; The Three Musketeers; Help!; Robin and Marian; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; The Four Musketeers; How I Won the War; The Return of the Musketeers; Petulia; Cuba; The Ritz; The Knack …and How to Get It; The Mouse on the Moon; It’s Trad, Dad!; BMT: Superman III; Notes: Huge director in the 1960s he is considered by some to be the father of the music video with his two Beatles films (A Hard Day’s Night and Help!) having a similar frenetic style to the videos made a generation later on MTV.)
Writers – Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel (character created by: Superman) – (Known For: The LEGO Batman Movie; Man of Steel; Superman Returns; Superman; The Iron Giant; Superman II; Future BMT: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; BMT: Superman III; Superman IV: The Quest for Peace; Notes: They made Superman originally which is obviously where all of these credits come from.)
David Newman (screenplay) – (Known For: Superman; Bonnie and Clyde; Superman II; What’s Up, Doc?; Bad Company; Still of the Night; There Was a Crooked Man…; Future BMT: Sheena; Santa Claus: The Movie; BMT: Superman III; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Screenplay for Sheena in 1985; Notes: He was at one point the editor of Esquire magazine, this was before he made a major turn to screenwriting.)
Leslie Newman (screenplay) – (Known For: Superman; Superman II; Future BMT: Santa Claus: The Movie; BMT: Superman III; Notes: Also a cookbook author writing Feasts: Menus for Home-Cooked Celebrations. She was married to David Newman until his death in the early 2000s.)
Actors – Christopher Reeve – (Known For: Superman; The Remains of the Day; Superman II; Somewhere in Time; Noises Off…; Deathtrap; Gray Lady Down; Street Smart; Above Suspicion; Switching Channels; The Bostonians; Future BMT: Village of the Damned; Speechless; Monsignor; BMT: Superman III; Superman IV: The Quest for Peace; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Supporting Actor for Switching Channels in 1989; Notes: Sadly he might be equally well-known for playing Superman and for subsequently becoming a quadriplegic following a horse riding accident.)
Richard Pryor – (Known For: Lost Highway; Silver Streak; Stir Crazy; The Muppet Movie; Car Wash; Lady Sings the Blues; California Suite; Blue Collar; Uptown Saturday Night; Wild in the Streets; The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings; Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling; Future BMT: The Wiz; The Toy; Another You; Brewster’s Millions; See No Evil, Hear No Evil; BMT: Superman III; Harlem Nights; Mad Dog Time; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Supporting Actor for Superman III in 1984; Notes: Widely considered perhaps the best stand up comedian ever. He had a very up-and-down life battling depression and drug addiction. This film was only three years after he, as he says, tried to kill himself via self-immolation, although family members maintain it was due to drug-induced psychosis. Sad nonetheless, Brewster’s Millions was a staple of my childhood.)
Margot Kidder – (Known For: Superman; Maverick; Superman II; Black Christmas; Sisters; Delirious; The Great Waldo Pepper; Chicago, Chicago; The Annihilation of Fish; The Hi-Line; Future BMT: Halloween II; The Amityville Horror; BMT:Superman III; Superman IV: The Quest for Peace; Notes: She also has a somewhat sad story involving mental illness, although it would seem she has since recovered and become an advocate for mental wellness. She was an avid political activist as well and has an incredible number of film and television credits to her name. She was briefly married to John Heard.)
Budget/Gross – $39 million / Domestic: $59,950,623
(Not too too bad. No wonder they made a third. I bet they were thinking “alright, if we correct a few of the issues from the dud we’ll be back to printing money in no time!”.)
(I’m only showing Comic Book because these two were roughly the same. Kind of amazing that these have legit been on a roll since basically 2000 (Spiderman). There really isn’t a hiccup there, even though you could think that there would be. I guess you had Spiderman, and then X-Men, and then Marvel. This is near Hellboy … which isn’t too bad actually.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 26% (11/43): When not overusing sight gags, slapstick, and Richard Pryor, Superman III resorts to plot points rehashed from the previous Superman flicks.
(Sounds just about right. Such a classic third-installment problem too. A different problem, but sounds a little like Spiderman 3 even. In that one they ended up with too many villains and the director went a little too heavy with the silliness … yeah roughly the same.)
Poster – SuperSklog III (B)
(Love everything about it but the color scheme. Wish we had a dominant color to work with. Besides that, though, it’s artistic in a classic way.)
Tagline(s) – If the world’s most powerful computer can control even Superman…no one on earth is safe. (D)
(Nope. Unacceptable. Breaks every BMT rule of tagline quality. Only gets a D because it doesn’t make me ill to read it. I’m not angry, just disappointed.)
Keyword(s) – computer; Top Ten by BMeTric: 96.1 Epic Movie (2007); 94.4 Batman & Robin (1997); 89.9 Alone in the Dark (2005); 85.8 Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004); 84.5 The Fog (2005); 84.1 Movie 43 (2013); 84.0 Home Alone 3 (1997); 81.4 I Know Who Killed Me (2007); 79.1 Halloween: Resurrection (2002); 78.7 Feardotcom (2002);
(Amazing list. I would def watch this in basically the worst 24 hours of my life. I also don’t believe The Fog has anything to do with “computers”, but I would certainly watch it again to find out!)
Notes – In his autobiography, Richard Pryor admitted that he thought the screenplay for this movie was terrible, and he only accepted the role because he was offered five million dollars for it.
The first time Christopher Reeve had top billing in a Superman movie. In the first Superman (1978) film, he was behind Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman; for Superman (1980) he was behind Hackman.
Richard Donner originally planned for Tom Mankiewicz to direct the film, as he written outlines for two more Superman films. But after he was fired from Superman II (1980), Mankiewicz could no longer be involved with the franchise.
According to Ilya Salkind, an earlier version of the script included the comic book villains Brainiac and Mr. Mxyzptlk teaming up, and Superman meeting his cousin, Supergirl, which would lead to the potential Supergirl spin-off. The character of Mister Mxyzptlk was going to be in the film, with Dudley Moore in the role.
Christopher Reeve threatened not to return for this film, in protest of the treatment of Richard Donner, and also because he hated the script. With the film already in pre-production, the producers scrambled to find an actor to play Superman. John Travolta was approached, but declined. Jeff Bridges and Kurt Russell were also considered, but were also not interested. Finally, with filming a few days away from beginning, the Salkinds settled on Tony Danza in the role of Clark Kent a.k.a. Superman. Richard Lester was mortified with the casting of Danza, and pleaded for Reeve to return. Reeve eventually agreed, under the condition that he could make numerous changes to the script. The producers agreed, and Christopher Reeve reprised his role as Superman. (whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat)
The original title was “Superman vs. Superman”. The producers of Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) threatened a lawsuit, refusing to believe the Salkinds’ explanation that it was intended as a play on various “Superman vs…” comic stories. Eventually Pierre Spengler suggested that “Superman III” would be a more sensible title anyway, and the issue was dropped. (That is a horrible title anyway)
Christopher Reeve was not happy with the film, and, as with the fourth, often expressed in later interviews that he hated how this film turned out. The experience and final product was so bad, that he initially swore off ever playing the role again, only to be persuaded to make Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) in exchange for more input on the script. (Oh dear… so it came out worse)
According to the writers, the original choice to play Ross Webster was Alan Alda. They wanted an actor who could be ruthless without losing any charm. Executive Producer Ilya Salkind said in the DVD commentary, that his choice was Frank Langella. Langella later starred as Perry White in Superman Returns (2006).
The ski slope outside Ross Webster’s penthouse took three months to build at Pinewood Studios, and seventeen tons of salt was used as snow. (I wonder how much that cost)
When Gus lists his “impossible” program, it’s a series of PRINT statements. (classic)
Jennifer Jason Leigh was originally set to star as Lana Lang, but turned down the role, because she was too young. (That’s crazy. Would have been her fourth film)
The shot of the subway train entering a tunnel during the shutdown scene is actually stock footage from The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974). (Ha)
Noel Neill: Lois Lane from Adventures of Superman (1952) can be seen as an old woman on the dais in Smallville, just after Superman receives the key to the city. (fun fact)
Richard Pryor’s character steals money from his company by collecting fractions of a cent from other accounts and collecting them in his personal account. In computer crime terminology, it’s called the “salami technique.” (I call it the Da Vinci virus)
Filmed in Calgary, Alberta, home of Canada’s first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. It includes multiple KFC references: the Metropolis computer school payroll is handed out by a man in a Sanders-style goatee, Gus walks past a Smallville display with Kentucky Colonel outfits, Gus drags the intoxicated Brad past a closet whose open door shows a bag hanging full of KFC items, and Gus uses a “chicken in the bucket” recipe to explain to Ross why Kryptonite doesn’t kill Superman. (uhhhhhh, yes please)
Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Richard Pryor)
Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Musical Score (Giorgio Moroder)