A bit of trivia from IMDB:
The film's worldwide box office in 1979 was $300,500 which adjusted for inflation would be $1,115,147 today.
This was the second highest grossing film of 1978, behind Grease (1978). It was the first film collaboration between Warner Brothers and DC Comics, since the two companies had come under the same ownership during the early 1970s.
The Superman "S" logo that Marlon Brando wears on his white cloak looks the same as the one used for George Reeves' costume in the television show Adventures of Superman (1952); this was probably an homage. Since this film, the idea of the "S" symbol being a Kryptonian family crest of the House of El has been incorporated into Superman's comic books and subsequent adaptations. It was Marlon Brando's idea to have Jor-El wear the same "S" symbol on his clothes that Kal-El would later wear as Superman.
Richard Donner had effectively shot 75% of Superman II (1980) when he was fired by the Salkinds.
Christopher Reeve proved to be an even greater asset than anticipated after being cast. Reeve flew gliders as a hobby and used his experience as a pilot to make Superman's flying feel more believable. His performance as both Superman and Clark Kent was roundly praised in making the superhero's secret identity seem surprisingly convincing.
This film's credits sequence cost more than most movies made, up to that point. The end titles sequence is more than seven minutes long, a record at the time of the film's release in 1978.
Cary Elwes (of The Princess Bride and Robinhood Men In Tights fame) worked as a production assistant whose job it was to bring Marlon Brando out of his trailer every day. Brando, who was paid $1 million a day in overages, had little incentive to leave his trailer, according to Elwes in an interview given to Ophira Eisenberg on the NPR show "Ask Me Another", and refused to call Elwes by his given name, choosing instead to refer to the then teenager as "Rocky".
Lee Quigley who played Superman as a baby, died in 1991 from inhaling solvents at the age of fourteen.
Aaron Smolinski, who played the infant Kal-El, would later appear uncredited in Superman III (1983) as a little boy waiting outside a photo booth while Clark Kent is changing into Superman. He also played a communications officer in Man of Steel (2013).
The film of the black-and-white sequence that opens the movie is shown in reverse. The sequence was filmed starting with a close-up of the Daily Planet panel followed by a zoom-out. Then the child's hand turns each page left-to-right, then closes the cover. (As the child turns each page and then closes the cover, notice that the corners fold in the opposite direction of how they should fold.)
Christopher Reeve (Superman) does not appear on screen until 48 minutes into the film. However, his voice is heard in the Smallville scenes, as he dubbed Jeff East. He knew nothing about it at the time. East wasn't happy with the decision, as it was done without his permission.
Christopher Reeve's wardrobe was handmade by Russian women staying at a local Holiday Inn, while they awaited a decision regarding requests for asylum.
The film was selected in 2017 for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."
I went with my mom and we were blown away by everything, special effects, sets, acting, music and plot. I have to say in my older years here, I've become more of a Superman fan than a Batman fan. Yes, it's all due to the 1978 movie.
Btw, the Donner cut of SUPERMAN II is wonderful to watch. On DVD and bluray now.
The year previously on Dec 17th was KING KONG written by Batman's own Lorenzo Semple-- and as a kid of 9 I thought that was one of the greatest movies I'd ever seen. I still think its fun, and makes a nice double feature with Superman The Movie.
Superman:The Movie was spectacular, even astonishing to see on the big screen in 1978 (movies in general seemed bigger in those days). I remember the older sister of a friend saw it before I could and said she loved it, which was promising, but she went on to explain, "It's hilarious," which was less encouraging. I think it deftly walked the line between thrilling for us kids and those who love adventure, and funny for those more skeptical of the whole " men in tights" genre. But I often think the shift in tone from the epic, grand Krypton/Smallville half to the campy second half makes the film too schizophrenic to be a total triumph.
As for Reeve, at the time I had some difficulty accepting the evolution from an all-wise father figure Superman to a "hot young hunk" approach. He seemed so impossibly young, especially next to Margot Kidder's world-weary, even predatory Lois, who seemed so much more jaded and carnal than the sweet-faced, naive farmboy she'd set her sights on. But there was something beautiful in the purity of Superman's sincere faith in humanity. The high point for me comes in the interview sequence, when Superman tells Lois he's here to fight for truth and justice, and she says he'll have to fight every politician in the country. I remember the audience got a laugh at that. But then Superman says, "I'm sure you don't really believe that, Lois," and she's momentarily speechless, realizing, " this guy really means it! ". The audience had the same reaction, and this, for me, is when Chris Reeve becomes Superman. He's telling us that as easy as it is to use cynicism as an armor, we'd be so much better off to believe in the better side of people. After all, if we believe people can be good, it's easier for us to be good ourselves (since we are people) but if we assume humanity is rotten, we've set a low standard for our own behavior, and will probably meet it. Anyway, after this, anyone who was still tittering or chuckling at the costume or super-feats is now rooting for Superman to come out on top. There's a "fish out of water" vibe, like in "Crocodile Dundee." People in the film can mock the seeming goofiness of the " strange visitor" from Krypton (or the Outback), with his notions so foreign to us sophisticated city types, but we in the audience know what's in the stranger's heart, and we're on his side.
It would have been so easy, and safe, for Chris to camp it up, stand there with arms akimbo and deliver his lines with mocking irony. Instead, he played the role with sincerity and humanity, so instead of us and him laughing at the impossibility of the character, we all end up wishing he was real. That was brilliant, especially from a performer as young as he was at the time. So while George beat him to the punch and defined Superman for me, Chris Reeve will always have my respect and affection for treating Superman with the respect he deserves. I just hope something similar happens again in my lifetime.
Also, while I'm sure it was nowhere near the heights of the 60s Batman craze, there was a burst of "Supermania" in 1978/79 that was a lot of fun to experience. Tons of cool stuff to collect, much of which I still have.
I was only 7 at the time, so I didn't really appreciate the subtly of Christopher Reeve's performance. Still, the movie was an amazing thing to see...such a thrill that it lived up to expectations. My poor mom had to take me to see movies like this, and she wound up enjoying it too. Really, seeing the film is just a great memory from my childhood and it still holds up. I really wish Richard Donner had continued on with the series.
Even the opening scenes of Krypton and the Krypton musical theme had a noble majestic quality which was never repeated. Snyder's Krypton was a joke making it nothing more than an outer space wild west town with laser guns and dragons in place of six shooters and horses. Hell, I'd prefer the western town Dr. Smith and Will Robinson end up in riding giant mechanical giraffes and the like than what Snyder put out.
The real experience was when Marlon Brando's Jor-El told his son, after they roamed the galaxy together over the years learning all the cosmic knowledge, that it was now his time to guide men. The house finally came down when Brando's face turned into that ice mask with the Roman trumpets starting to blast the iconic theme. Once again we found ourselves back in the Fortress of Solitude only to see a familiar red and blue figure standing in the distance. Finally, HE'S BACK!!! I thought the theater would collapse from the shaking and roaring of the audience as Christopher Reeve flew at us closer and closer and then suddenly right past the screen. You'd swear we all thought he was real - come to life at that point!
I thought then, as now, it was a perfect blend of action, drama, and comedy as opposed to now when dark and depressing passes for drama and computer cartooning passes for action. I grew up on George Reeves' series like many here, but I thought Christopher Reeve really did the character justice and honored George's memory by keeping him that way. Superman was all about 'Truth, Justice, and the American Way'. For me, the last two versions were insulting and don't get me started on Hans Zimmer's totally forgettable Man of Steel soundtrack. They should have stopped after Superman II which I also really liked because, up to that point, where else in a movie did you ever see super-powered characters lifting and throwing buses through downtown streets or having wrestling matches amidst skyscrapers? It was great filming for that time period.
Keith, thanks for putting up that poster. The image really conveys the Super-message.
LEX: When I was six years old my father said to me...
Miss Teschmacher: Get out?
LEX: [laughing] Before that. He said, "Son, stocks may rise and fall, utilities and transportation systems may collapse. People are no damn good, but they will always need land and they will pay through the nose to get it! Remember," my father said... LAND.
Otis on the other hand is too over the top, and don't get me started on Lois. I thought then that Margot Kidder was a terrible choice for Lois Lane and I think so now.
But Sprang hit the nail on the head, Christopher Reeve sold it. Years later I worked with him at a project at Unicef and he was actually like the character he played. A rare case of an movie star who wasn't full of himself.
To me, the finest moment in the film was after the Lois-Superman interview when Clark arrives to take her out for a cheeseburger. When she goes into the other room, we get to watch the transformation of Clark Kent into Superman right on screen. He starts off as Clark and says "Lois", then proceeds to take off his glasses, and stand up straight while saying "there is something I want to tell you" in his Superman-voice. When she comes back, he promptly hunches back over, puts the glasses on, and returns to his Clark-voice and talks about dinner. I have no idea as to how many times I've watched this scene... it completely captivates me every time.
We all chuckled at that scene, but the one scene that really resonates with me, even to this day is the helicopter scene. When Lois falls and Superman says I’ve got you, and Lois replies who’s got you? That was a fun and yet very memorable scene. You just didn’t get any of that fun magical feeling from the Snyder stuff.