It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a film that's fun for everyone
In May 1974, at 5:30 in the afternoon, cocktail time at the Cannes Film Festival, an airplane flew over the strip of beach trailing a long banner announcing a new movie called Superman. In May
1975, three planes flew along the beach, and the announcement was repeated. In
1976, same time, same place, same messagebut now there were five planes, two helicopters and one blimp buzzing above the overpriced
sand, and in the water opposite the Carlton Hotel, where the big-money deals are made, bobbed a flotilla of eight boats, each with a different letter painted on its sail: SUPERMAN. By
1977, the Superman squadron had become something of a joke, and by
1978, it was a tradition, like topless starlets and surly
waiters. Whatever else he was, this Superman was obviously not faster than a speeding bullet.
What May 1979 will bring is hard to say, because now, 4½ years after he was announced, Superman is finally arriving.
By May there probably won't be a kid on the block or rue or Strasse who has not seen him soar at least once. Not since Star Wars, the alltime champ, has there been such an entertaining movie for children of all ages. It has a few flaws, but Superman is nonetheless two hours and 15 minutes of pure fun, fancy and adventure.
It has, moreover, one very special special effect: human flying. In Star Wars, audiences wanted to see space flights and talking robots. In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, they wanted to find out what flying saucers and extraterrestrial beings might look like. In Superman, they will want to see if modern movie technology can make a man fly convincingly. "The film stands or falls on whether the characters appear to fly," says Terence Stamp, who plays the villainous General Zod. "If they do, the picture is a success." By Stamp's definition, at any rate, the movie will be a smash. Superman not only flies better and faster than any bird or plane, but he does aerial acrobatics that would cause an eagle to fasten its seat belt.
Superman will almost certainly be this year's big Christmas movie.
There will be a gala opening in Washington on Dec. 10, followed by a royal premiere in London on Dec. 13. The film will then open in 700 theaters in most of the English-speaking world, and the rest of the globe will wait until early next year. "It's a kids' movie that adults will go to that kids will like," is the rather convoluted way that Director Richard Donner, 48, explains Superman's appeal. "No," says Producer Ilya Salkind, 31, who often disagrees with Donner. "It's an adult picture that kids will see." No, again, says Co-Producer Pierre Spengler, also 31, who sometimes disputes
Salkind and almost always disputes Donner. "It's a kids' movie made for adults."