The extended cut of Superman: The Movie -- a three-hour version of the blockbuster that aired on TV in the 1980s -- will be made available in high definition from the Warner Archive soon.
The Warner Archive Collection provides print-on-demand copies of Blu-rays and DVDs for movies that Warner Bros. bill as deserving of a wider release, but unlikely to be a commercial success at big-box retailers.
Superman: The Movie's epic cut, which was billed at the time as restoring 49 additional minutes to the film's runtime, debuted on ABC in 1982 -- although Caped Wonder, who did a recent rundown on the extended cut, noted that about a third of that 49 minutes was actually reuse of opening and closing credits in order to split the longer movie into a two-night event.
Nearly every element of the movie -- from Krypton to Smallville to Metropolis to the Fortress of Solitude, and including both character development and action beats -- are expanded in the longer cut of Superman.
All four of the Richard Donner-era Superman films would get similarly-expanded cuts for their TV broadcasts -- a practice that was common as recently as the mid-'90s. At one point Kevin Smith's comic shop Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash sold bootleg VHS tapes of the "ABC cut" of Mallrats, presumably taped off TV and duplicated into infinity. The most notorious example of this is likely the TV re-edit of David Lynch's Dune, which was done without his involvement and compelled the perfectionist filmmaker to demand his name be removed from the movie altogether.
The TV cut of Superman II was notorious, since it used loads of footage from Richard Donner's production. Many fans argue that the "Donner Cut" is the "true" version of the movie and that the expanded version of the movie is greatly improved. This eventually led Warner Bros. to releasing it commercially in 2006.
The Blu-ray for the Extended Cut will be packaged with Superman: The Movie's Special Edition, which has been widely available in recent years, although a quick look at Amazon suggests it has been available only on DVD, with the Superman: The Movie Blu-rays being a stripped down version with fewer features.
No retail price is listed for the package, but you can see a list of features below, along with the official description for the package:
SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE - EXTENDED CUT & SPECIAL EDITION 2-FILM COLLECTION (1978,2000)
Run Time 188 Minutes-EXTENDED CUT (NEW 2017 1080p HD MASTER)
151 Minutes-SPECIAL EDITION
Subtitles Spanish, French, English SDH
DTS HD-Master Audio 2.0 – English (EXTENDED CUT)
DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 - English, DOLBY DIGITAL SURROUND 5.1 - French, DOLBY DIGITAL SURROUND 5.1 - Spanish
ORIGINAL ASPECT RATIO - 2.40:1, 16 X 9 LETTERBOX
Special Features (on Superman The Special Edition Disc): Commentary by Director Richard Donner and Creative Consultant Tom Mankiewicz; 3 Documentaries Taking Flight: The Development of Superman, Making Superman: Filming the Legend and The Magic Behind the Cape; Screen Tests; Restored Scenes; Additional Scenes; Additional Music Cues; Music-Only Track
Decades before blockbuster Extended Cuts were common, Superman proved a true “Man of Tomorrow.” Superman: The Movie received an ahead-of-its-time makeover for its television premiere – nearly 40 more minutes of story, creating a two-night television event. Audiences had already been swept off their feet by Christopher Reeve’s Last Son of Krypton, and now there was more to enjoy. Unseen in decades, this version is paired here with Richard Donner’s definitive vision of his film, the Special Edition Director’s Cut (2000), to create a supersized celebration of Metropolis’ favorite son that preserves the director’s intent while feeding superfan demands.