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Lettris is a curious tetris-clone game where all the bricks have the same square shape but different content. Each square carries a letter. To make squares disappear and save space for other squares you have to assemble English words (left, right, up, down) from the falling squares.
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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Bryan Singer|
Eva Marie Saint
|Cinematography||Newton Thomas Sigel|
Bad Hat Harry Productions
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Running time||154 minutes|
Superman Returns is a 2006 superhero film directed by Bryan Singer. It is the fifth and final installment in the original Superman motion picture series. The film serves as an alternate sequel to Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980), ignoring the events of Superman III (1983) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), both of which were much less successful than the first two films and caused the series' 19-year hiatus.
The film stars Brandon Routh as Superman, as well as Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden, Frank Langella, and Parker Posey, and tells the story of the title character returning to Earth after a five year absence. He finds that his love interest Lois Lane has moved on with her life, and that his archenemy Lex Luthor is plotting a scheme that will destroy the world, starting with the United States.
After a series of unsuccessful projects to resurrect Superman on the screen, Warner Bros. hired Bryan Singer to direct and develop Superman Returns in July 2004. The majority of principal photography took place at Fox Studios Australia, Sydney, while the visual effects sequences were created by Sony Pictures Imageworks; filming ended in November 2005. Preceded by an extensive, $44.5 million marketing campaign, Superman Returns was released to positive reviews and received many award nominations, but Warner Bros. was disappointed with the $391 million worldwide box office return. A sequel was planned for a summer 2009 release, but the project was later cancelled. The Superman series will be rebooted in 2013 with the film Man of Steel and will be directed by Zack Snyder with Henry Cavill as Superman.
Superman (Brandon Routh) has been missing for five years, since traveling to the location where astronomers believed they had discovered the remains of Krypton. During his absence, Superman's nemesis Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) was released from prison and married a rich widow (Noel Neill) to obtain her fortune upon her death. Superman, having failed in his quest to find surviving Kryptonians, returns to Earth and, as Clark Kent, resumes his job at the Daily Planet in Metropolis. He subsequently learns that Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has won the Pulitzer Prize for her article "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman." Meanwhile, Lex travels to the Fortress of Solitude and steals Kryptonian crystals, to use for an experiment that causes a mass power outage on the East Coast. The power loss interferes with the flight test of a space shuttle to be launched into space from its piggy-back mounting on an airliner, occupied by Lois Lane, who is covering the story. Clark flies into action as Superman and stops the plane from crashing onto a baseball stadium.
The world rejoices at Superman's return, but he has difficulty coping with Lois' fiancé, Richard White (James Marsden), nephew of Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White (Frank Langella), and their 5-year-old son, Jason (Tristan Lake Leabu). With Superman distracted by an out-of-control vehicle (a diversion involving Lex's partner-in-crime, Kitty Kowalski), Lex steals Kryptonite from the Metropolis Museum of Natural History. Perry then assigns Lois to interview Superman while Clark investigates the blackout. Lois and Jason inadvertently board Lex's yacht and are captured after Lois decides to investigate the blackout story, which she connects to Luthor's experiment. He reveals to them his latest scheme to grab land and power. By combining one of the stolen Kryptonian crystals with Kryptonite, Luthor can grown a new continental landmass in the Northern Atlantic Ocean, one that will cause sea levels to rise drastically, killing billions of people and affording him full control of the only available land for the survivors.
Noticing Jason experience a slight reaction to Kryptonite, Lex asks who Jason's father really is; Lois asserts that the father is Richard. The crystal begins to create Lex's new landmass, while Lois attempts to escape but is attacked by a henchman. Jason throws a piano at the henchman, killing him and proving that he is actually Superman's son. Meanwhile, Superman is attempting to minimize the destruction in Metropolis caused by the new landmass' growth when Richard arrives in a sea plane to rescue Lois and Jason from the sinking yacht. Superman soon arrives to help and then flies off to find Lex.
Meeting Lex, Superman discovers the landmass is filled with Kryptonite, which weakens him to the point that Lex and his henchmen are able to beat him. Superman is stabbed by Lex with a shard of Kryptonite and falls into the ocean. Lois makes Richard turn back to rescue Superman, whereupon she removes the Kryptonite from his back. Superman, after regaining his strength from the sun, lifts the landmass after putting layers of earth between him and the Kryptonite. Lex and Kitty escape in their helicopter; Kitty, unwilling to let billions of people die, tosses away the crystals that Lex stole from the Fortress of Solitude. She and Luthor are stranded on a tiny desert island when their helicopter runs out of fuel. Superman pushes the landmass into space with the crystals trapped on the landmass, but is weakened by the Kryptonite and crashes back to Earth. Doctors remove more Kryptonite from Superman's wound, but after it is removed they cannot penetrate his skin with their surgical tools. While Superman remains in a coma, Lois and Jason visit him at the hospital where Lois whispers something into Superman's ear and then kisses him. Superman later awakens and flies to visit Jason, reciting his father Jor-El's (Marlon Brando) last speech to Jason as he sleeps. Lois starts writing another article, titled “Why the World Needs Superman”. Superman reassures her that he is now back to stay, and flies off to low orbit, where he gazes down at the world once again.
Other cast members include Frank Langella who plays Daily Planet editor Perry White, a role originally attached to Hugh Laurie; Sam Huntington as Daily Planet photographer Jimmy Olsen, Eva Marie Saint as Clark Kent's adoptive mother Martha Kent, and Kal Penn as one of Luthor's henchmen, Stanford. Jack Larson, who portrayed Jimmy Olsen in the 1950s television series Adventures of Superman, makes a cameo appearance as a bartender. Noel Neill -- who portrayed Lois Lane in the television series and the film serials Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950) -- appears as Luthor's elderly wife Gertrude Vanderworth. Richard Branson cameos as the pilot of the space shuttle.
Director and producer Bryan Singer conceived the storyline of "Superman returning to Earth after a five year absence" during the filming of X2 (2003). He presented the idea to Lauren Shuler Donner and her husband Richard Donner, director of Superman (1978). Donner greeted Singer's idea with positive feedback. In March 2004, Warner Bros. was commencing pre-production on Superman: Flyby, which had a target theatrical release date of June 2006. McG was signed to direct with a script by J. J. Abrams, but dropped out in June 2004. That same month, Singer was approached by Warner Bros. to pitch his idea for Superman Returns, as he was preparing to leave for Hawaii on a short vacation with his X2 writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris. While in Hawaii, Singer, Dougherty and Harris began to outline the film treatment. In July 2004, Singer signed on to direct and develop Superman Returns.
Although he was not a comic book fan, Singer was most impressed with Donner's 1978 film, citing it as an influence of his, Dougherty's and Harris's writing. With Singer's hiring, he dropped out of X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and also had the Logan's Run remake pushed back. Superman Returns was financed 50/50 between Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, and pre-production began in November 2004. By February 2005, Dougherty and Harris had written six drafts of the script. Early versions of the script contained references to the September 11 attacks before they were removed.
Warner Bros. considered shooting Superman Returns at Warner Roadshow Studios in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. After filming, this could have been used as an attraction for the adjoining Warner Bros. Movie World theme park, but the idea was scrapped for being too expensive. Set construction started in January 2005 at Fox Studios Australia for the film's 60 setpieces, while the start date was pushed back for two weeks. In an attempt to avoid public attention, Superman Returns carried the fake working title of Red Sun during filming. Starting in late March 2005, principal photography lasted until November. Filming of Superman Returns in New South Wales constituted hiring thousands of local workers, generating over $100 million into the local economy. 80% of filming took place at Fox Studios Australia, occupying all nine sound stages. Scenes set in Smallville were shot at Tamworth, while the Australian Museum doubled for the Metropolis Museum of Natural History.
Superman Returns was shot using Panavision's Genesis digital camera. Production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright's Johnson Wax Headquarters for the design of the Daily Planet. ESC Entertainment was originally set to design the visual effects sequences, but Warner Bros. replaced them with the hiring of Mark Stetson from Sony Pictures Imageworks as the visual effects supervisor. A total of 1,400 visual effects shots were created. The script required a scene of Superman safely delivering a Boeing 777 in a baseball park where computer-generated imagery was used as it would have been impossible to assemble the number of extras for the shots. A second unit crew traveled to Dodger Stadium to photograph elements that were composited into the final images. Using footage from the original Superman (1978) film as a reference point, Marlon Brando was re-created by Rhythm & Hues using CGI. The opening credits for Superman Returns are presented in an intended recreation of the style used for Superman, again to the accompaniment of John Williams' theme music.
Singer hired regular collaborator John Ottman as editor and film score composer months before the script was written. Ottman said in past interviews that John Williams, who composed the 1978 film, had influenced his decision to become a musician. He was both cautious and enthusiastic to work on Superman Returns. "Bryan [Singer] said he wouldn't even greenlight the movie if he couldn't use the John Williams music." Ottman continued, "it was important for me to preserve the Williams theme right down to every single note for the opening titles." Ottman referred to his work on Superman Returns as a homage to, not a ripoff of, Williams.
Originally budgeted at $185 million, Warner Bros. placed the production cost at $209 million, after factoring in tax rebates and incentives. Taking into account the development costs since the early 1990s, total expenditure is estimated to be around $263 million, with up to a further $100 million spent on worldwide marketing.
Warner Bros. promoted Superman Returns at 2005 San Diego Comic-Con International. Singer and screenwriters Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris came up with the idea of publishing a prequel limited series, spanning four comic book issues. The stories were written by Jimmy Palmiotti, Marc Andreyko and Justin Gray, with artwork by Karl Kerschl and Matt Haley. During production, a series of "video diaries" on the Internet were released at BlueTights.net, showing behind-the-scenes work being done. After 27 installments, the video diaries stopped for a while shortly before the teaser trailer debuted on November 17, 2005. The main theatrical trailer premiered online on May 2, 2006. The trailer appeared in theaters on May 5, with prints of Mission: Impossible III, while the international trailer came with The Da Vinci Code and X-Men: The Last Stand. DC Comics published a comics adaptation by artist Matt Haley and writer Martin Pasko, Marv Wolfman wrote a novelization, and Electronic Arts developed a video game based on both the movie and the comics.
The estimated budget for Superman Returns marketing campaign was $45.5 million, the second highest of the year behind Disney's $53.5 million campaign for Cars. Warner Bros. made tie-in deals with General Mills, Burger King, Duracell, Pepsi, Doritos, Papa John's Pizza, 7-Eleven and Colgate. The film was also advertised with Red Bull Racing Formula One cars at the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix. David Coulthard managed to get the team's first top three finish that day; on the podium, he wore a Superman cape in celebration of his achievement. NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon also sported the "Man of Steel" look by promoting the movie on his #24 Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the 2006 Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Troy Bayliss appeared in promotional "Superman" leathers and sported a cape on the podium following a win and a 2nd place at the 2006 Brands Hatch Superbike World Championship round on his way to winning that year's championship. The National Geographic Channel released The Science of Superman on June 29, 2006: a television special that studied popular science analogies with the Superman mythos. Singer admitted at 2006 Comic-Con International that he was dissatisfied with the marketing and promotion. "A lot of people did their job, and a lot didn't".
Bryan Singer convinced Warner Bros. not to experiment with test screenings. In addition, Singer took out 15 minutes of footage after showing Superman Returns to some of his "trusted associates". The final theatrical time length ran at 154 minutes. Warner Bros. originally slated the movie for release on Friday, June 30, but moved it up to Wednesday, June 28. Superman Returns was released on June 28, 2006 in the United States and Canada in 4,065 theaters. The film ranked at the top in its opening weekend, accumulating $52,535,096. Within five days, Superman Returns took in $84.2 million, a new record for Warner Bros., beating out The Matrix Revolutions (2003), which has since been surpassed by The Dark Knight (2008).
Superman Returns: An IMAX 3D Experience was released simultaneously in 111 IMAX format theatres worldwide, which included 20 minutes of converted 3-D film material. It was the first Hollywood full length live-action film to be released in this combined format. One of the key scenes Singer took out was "the Return to Krypton sequence". $10 million was spent on this sequence alone, but it was deleted. Singer noted that it could not be released as part of a DVD featurette because it was converted to IMAX 3D. He hoped it could have appeared in an IMAX reissue. The film's second week gross rapidly declined from the first week, due to the presence of Dead Man's Chest and The Devil Wears Prada. Superman Returns went on to gross $200,081,192 in North America and $191 million internationally, earning $391,081,192 worldwide. Domestically, the film was the sixth-highest grossing film of 2006. In worldwide totals, Superman Returns was ninth-highest.
Superman Returns received positive reviews from film critics. Based on 255 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 76% of the reviewers enjoyed the film, while the 43 critics in its "Top Critics" group gave a 72% approval rating. By comparison, Metacritic received an average score of 72/100, based on 40 reviews. Richard Corliss of Time praised Superman Returns, calling it one of the best superhero films. He was mostly impressed with Singer's direction and the storyline. Joe Morgenstern from The Wall Street Journal also gave a positive review, but observed Routh's and Bosworth's acting was "somewhat dead or super average. Nothing special." Morgenstern believed Lex Luthor's characterization was "well written by the writers and well played by Kevin Spacey". He also praised Newton Thomas Sigel's cinematography and Guy Hendrix Dyas's production design.
Peter Travers, writing in Rolling Stone, felt the film "perfectly updates Superman for the modern audience". J. Hoberman of The Village Voice called it "surprisingly well made. It's a summer blockbuster filled with mythology and sensitivity." James Berardinelli reacted positively to the movie, comparing it favorably with Richard Donner's 1978 film. He felt Spacey was better than Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, describing him as "more cruel and less flippant" than Hackman. "There are no miscasts to be found in the supporting cast, either," Berardinelli said. "Superman Returns is near the top, if not at the top of the superhero movie pile. It offers nearly everything: romance, action, humor, and plenty of goose bumps."
However, Roger Ebert argued the film was a "glum, lackluster movie in which even the big effects sequences seem dutiful instead of exhilarating. Brandon Routh lacks charisma as Superman, and was probably cast in the role only because he physically resembles Christopher Reeve. Proof of this is the fact that Routh hardly speaks when donning the costume." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle felt that Warner Bros. should have rebooted the series along the lines of Batman Begins. He also felt Bosworth, at 22 years old, was too young to portray Lois Lane, and the climax did not "match the potential of the tiring 154 minute long film".
Superman Returns was nominated for both the Academy Award for Visual Effects and BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects, but lost the nominations to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. The film was successful at the 33rd Saturn Awards, winning Best Fantasy Film, and categories for Direction (Bryan Singer), Best Actor (Brandon Routh), Writing (Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris) and Music (John Ottman). Kate Bosworth, Tristan Lake Leabu, James Marsden, Parker Posey, and the visual effects department were nominated for categories. However, Bosworth was also nominated a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress.
On May 3, 2009, almost three years after the debut of Superman Returns, the Academy Award winning filmmaker and screenwriter Quentin Tarantino declared his appreciation for Bryan Singer's directorial work on Superman Returns and that he is writing a 20-page review about Superman Returns.
On January 9, 2012, more than five years after the movie was released, the independent film community daily news site indieWire a two-part video essay about Superman Returns and its merits. Produced by Matt Zoller Seitz and Ken Cancelosi, the critique was inspired by the New York Press review written by Matt Zoller Seitz, that named the movie as "neglected gem in the comic book movie genre".
Superman Returns debuted on DVD on November 28, 2006 in two versions, one with a single disc, and a double-disc edition which featured over three hours of behind-the-scenes features. That same day, a 14-disc DVD box set titled Superman Ultimate Collector's Edition was released, containing special editions of all five Superman films, as well as the documentary Look, Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman. It debuted at the top spot of the DVD charts, and also generated $13 million in rentals during its first week. The film was also released in both high definition formats, HD DVD - which featured both standard and high definitions on the same disc - and Blu-ray. It was the best-selling title on both formats in 2006, and was among the best-sellers of both formats of 2007.
In February 2006, four months before the release of Superman Returns, Warner Bros. announced a mid-2009 theatrical release date for a sequel, with Bryan Singer reprising his directing duties. Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, Sam Huntington, Frank Langella, and Tristan Lake Leabu were to reprise their roles. Due to his commitment, Singer dropped out of directing a remake of Logan's Run and an adaptation of The Mayor of Castro Street. Writer Michael Dougherty wanted the sequel to be "action packed", featuring "other Kryptonians" with Brainiac and Bizarro also considered for primary villains. The "New Krypton" landmass floating in space at the end of Superman Returns would have served as a plot device. Although Superman Returns received mostly positive reviews, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures were disappointed by the film's box office return. Warner Bros. President Alan F. Horn explained that Superman Returns was a very successful film, but that it "should have done $500 million worldwide. We should have had perhaps a little more action to satisfy the young male crowd." Singer reacted incredulously to the studio complaints, saying, "That movie made $400 million! I don’t know what constitutes under-performing these days..." $175 million was the maximum budget Warner Bros. was projecting for the sequel, as Superman Returns cost $209 million.
Filming for the Superman Returns sequel was to start in mid-2007, before Singer halted development in favor of Valkyrie. Filming was then pushed to March 2008, but writers Dougherty and Dan Harris left in favor of other career opportunities. The 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike pushed the release date to 2010. Singer still listed the sequel as a priority in March 2008, saying that the film was in early development. Routh expected filming to begin in early 2009. Paul Levitz, president of DC Comics, expected Routh to reprise the title role from Superman Returns before his contract for a sequel expired in 2009. However, with Warner Bros. deciding to reboot the film series, Singer dropped out in favor of directing Jack the Giant Killer, "Superman Returns didn't quite work as a film in the way that we wanted it to," Warner Bros. President of Production Jeff Robinov reflected in August 2008. "It didn't position the character the way he needed to be positioned. Had Superman worked in 2006, we would have had a movie for Christmas of this year or 2009. Now the plan is just to reintroduce Superman without regard to a Batman and Superman movie at all."
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