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July 02, 2006

Not So Super Box Office

I guess that means that the theaters won't be as full when I rouse myself to see it.

I'm getting a King Kong vibe off the movie.

At least it's not the famously godawful Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, which made moviegoers pine for the excellence and subtlety of Superman III: The Quest For Richard Pryor.

The Agony Booth has written a new review of this old bomb for your enjoyment.

Cannon Films, co-founded by Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, churned out an astonishing amount of B-movie cheese in the '80s. Cannon was famous mostly for Chuck Norris action pictures, Death Wish sequels, and an inordinate number of movies featuring ninjas, but they released everything from Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo to Franco Zeffirelli's Otello. Golan and Globus had no specialty when it came to producing films. If they thought it could make a buck, or help turn Cannon into a "legitimate" studio, they financed it. Golan and Globus scored a major coup when they got the rights to Superman, and they were eager to put a new film into production. But they knew that no matter what, they had to get Christopher Reeve to play Superman. Any other actor in the role would have seemed like a cheap imitation, and the resulting film would have surely bombed. So they proceeded to use any means necessary to lure Reeve back to the role he had sworn off years ago.

First, they offered him a paycheck comparable to what he had earned on the previous films. Then they offered to produce and release any pet project of his choosing. (That film, Street Smart, came out the same year as Superman IV and garnered Morgan Freeman his very first Oscar nomination.) And lastly, they offered Reeve the opportunity to develop the story for Superman IV. And that would be the true death knell for the Superman franchise.

Reeve was a staunch liberal who had protested the Vietnam War, been an activist for environmental causes, and lobbied for funding in the arts. Unfortunately, he was also the kind of liberal that conservatives love to pick on: the wide-eyed, naïve kind, who thinks all the world needs now is love, sweet love, and all we have to do to bring about peace in our lifetimes is link hands, smile on your brother, and sing songs 'round the campfire.

Reeve couldn't turn down Cannon's offer, of course. And finally given the opportunity to create his own story for the character he had portrayed so memorably, he made the ill-fated choice of turning Superman into a crusader for Reeve's own liberal agenda.

Eeesh. I remember interviews with Chris Reeve in which he proudly told of his shaping of the story of Superman IV, and how he had always had his "fingers in the pot" unofficially for past movies. I can only take that to mean he was responsible for a lot of the bad parts of Superman through Superman III, because, really, have you seen Superman IV?

Thanks to Asher for the review tip. A lot of good reviews of very bad movies on that site.


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posted by Ace at 01:38 PM

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