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Trivia / Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

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  • Box Office Bomb: Budget, $17 million. Box office, $15,681,080.
  • B-Team Sequel: Richard Donner and Richard Lester were both asked to return as director, but declined.
  • California Doubling: Present in all the movies, but particularly prevalent here. Most of Superman IV was filmed in England, and it shows. For example, the United Nations Headquarters scene was shot at the Milton Keynes Central Railway Station. (According to Christopher Reeve, they were originally intending to shoot the scene at the actual UN building in New York, but due to budget constraints, they ended up filming it in Milton Keynes.)
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  • Channel Hop: The film rights were licensed to The Cannon Group by the Salkinds. Warner Bros., which distributed the first three films, also distributed this film in North America.
  • Creator Killer:
    • The failure of Superman IV most likely ruined The Cannon Group's chances at becoming a legitimate film studio. They didn't give special priority to the sequel, as they were already overstretched with other productions at the time, and funnelled much of the original budget to those. Between failures like this, Lifeforce, Masters of the Universe, and Over the Top, Cannon was forced to close up shop at the dawn of the 1990s.
    • While director Sidney J. Furie hadn't had a film that was a critical hit for well over a decade prior to this film, he'd at least had a few that were commercial successes, such as The Entity and Iron Eagle. Following this film's critical and commercial failure, while he did continue to rack up film and TV credits in the decades ahead, he never worked on anything else of note other than the second and fourth Iron Eagle films.
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  • Deleted Role: Clive Mantle as the first Nuclear Man.
  • Deleted Scene: Quite a lot of material (45 minutes' worth!) was cut for the movie's theatrical release, with some odd choices. One would think an extended action sequence of Superman fighting a super-powered opponent (the Bizarro-esque first incarnation of Nuclear Man) would be something you'd want to keep. Other deleted scenes make the plot hang together a little better, and there's a nice character scene between Lois Lane and the weakened Clark/Superman at Clark's apartment.
  • Directed by Cast Member: Though not the entire film, Christopher Reeve receives credit for second unit directing.
  • Doing It for the Art: By some accounts, Christopher Reeve only agreed to do Superman IV to get Street Smart made. (Reeve also has co-story and second unit director credit.)
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  • Executive Meddling: Cannon cut the film's budget and the running time. Jon Cryer said that they basically released an unfinished film.
  • Franchise Killer: Sent Superman movies into deep space for two decades until Superman Returns came out in 2006 and retconned this movie. It didn't help, resulting in another reboot in 2013 with Man of Steel, and even then, Superman hasn't been able to recover from this movie like Batman (the fact that he was the star of one of the most notorious pieces of software ever created, Superman 64 in 1999, helped put a stopper on the regrowth of this series' reputation).
  • Genre-Killer: If it hadn't been for RoboCop (1987) that same year, Superman IV might well have killed off the superhero/comic book movie genre (Tim Burton's first Batman movie came out two years later and kept the genre and DC alive until 1997, when two other Snark Bait movies finished the job Superman IV started; while that kept DC down until Batman Begins, the entire genre was fortunately saved by Marvel's BLADE the following year).
  • Hostility on the Set: Margot Kidder said she and Christopher Reeve did not get along during filming. Kidder states that Reeve's ego was inflated because he co-wrote the story. She also revealed that Reeve didn't get on with director Sidney J. Furie.
    • Mark Pillow (Nuclear Man) described Reeve as an intense person to work with. On the other hand, he found Gene Hackman a joy to work with.
  • Money, Dear Boy: According to Jon Cryer, Gene Hackman apparently said this to him word for word when he asked him why he chose to do the movie.
  • No Budget: Christopher Reeve up summed it up:
    We were also hampered by budget constraints and cutbacks in all departments. Cannon Films had nearly thirty projects in the works at the time, and Superman IV received no special consideration. For example, [Lawrence] Konner and [Mark] Rosenthal wrote a scene in which Superman lands on 42nd Street and walks down the double yellow lines to the United Nations, where he gives a speech. If that had been a scene in Superman I, we would actually have shot it on 42nd Street. Dick Donner would have choreographed hundreds of pedestrians and vehicles and cut to people gawking out of office windows at the sight of Superman walking down the street like the Pied Piper. Instead, we had to shoot at an industrial park in England in the rain with about a hundred extras, not a car in sight, and a dozen pigeons thrown in for atmosphere. Even if the story had been brilliant, I don't think that we could ever have lived up to the audience's expectations with this approach.
  • Old Shame: Christopher Reeve was deeply ashamed about this movie (and angry about the poor quality of the previous sequel, Superman III), declaring the film to be "terrible" on the eve of its release, citing a haphazard scriptwriting process and the poor quality of the film's special effects. Co-star Jon Cryer also hated the film, even saying it was unfinished because of its ultra-low budget.
  • One for the Money; One for the Art: Christopher Reeve did the film so the studio would produce Street Smart.
  • One-Book Author: This is the only film Mark Pillow (Nuclear Man) made.
  • Prop Recycling: Surprisingly averted for this next-to-No Budget film. The Kent farm was rebuilt in North Hertfordshire even though the set built in Alberta for the first movie was still standing.
  • Recycled Script: One of the Superman title annuals that became part of the Armageddon 2001 crossover event is essentially a more tragic rewrite of this movie's storyline, with Superman using force instead of diplomacy and the goodwill of the nations to dispose of nuclear weapons. And what set him off on that crusade? The death of his wife Lois Lane by a nuclear bomb.
  • Star-Derailing Role:
    • Saying Mark Pillow (Nuclear Man) didn't get much work after this movie would be an understatement. This interview from 2013 shows that Mark is a pretty good sport about the whole affair, saying that he enjoyed his experience working with Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman but acknowledges the film was a trainwreck that pretty much torpedoed his chances of a serious acting career (and no, he also isn't sure why they decided to dub over him with Hackman's voice). He eventually settled down and became a family man.
    • The box-office failure of this film and several others stalled Jon Cryer's career momentum after Pretty in Pink, a situation he would not recover from until Two and a Half Men debuted.
  • Troubled Production: The film basically had no real budget to work with, among other reasons because producers Golan-Globus were secretly siphoning away funds to finance other projects, which caused all kinds of problems for what should have been a huge film. As if that weren't enough, Margot Kidder later said the working relationship between her and Reeve soured during filming and that Reeve didn't get along with director Sidney J. Furie either. Reeve only accepted to play Superman once more only if he had creative control over the script. Stuntman John Lees suffered career-ending injuries when working on the moon scenes, leading to a subsequent court case. Much of the special effects crew that worked on the previous films were hired during pre-production, but eventually left following salary disputes. Only Roy Field would remain loyal to the production.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Wes Craven was originally slated to direct the movie, but was replaced due to Creative Differences with Christopher Reeve. Reeve himself was also pencilled in as director early on, but ultimately backed out after realising that he wasn't suited to direct such a technically-demanding film. Reeve also suggested that Cannon hire Ron Howard for the job.
    • When Nuclear Man was being developed, Christopher Reeve was approached to play that part as Superman's polar opposite, or a darker version of Bizarro.
    • In the original screenplay, by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal, Nuclear Man could change his shape and expand in size.
    • Trevor Howard and Harry Andrews were asked to reprise their roles as the Elders from the first film, but were not free.
    • Reportedly, the original budget was about $35 million, but the Cannon Group slashed it in half.
    • The planned soundtrack album (split between songs — mostly for nightclub scenes — and Alexander Courage's score) was cancelled when most of the scenes for which the chosen tracks were written got cut from the movie. (This was before the phrase "Music From And Inspired By" became the bête noire of film music fans.) La La Land Records eventually issued an individual album.
    • The climax of the story was meant to have Nuclear Man flying Lacy into the skies above Metropolis after kidnapping her. However, the lack of a suitable shot of the city's skyline forced them to instead have him fly Lacy into space, resulting in one of the film's most infamous plot holes.
    • Christopher Reeve, while promoting the previous film in the series, told Johnny Carson on the episode that aired June 7, 1983, that his involvement with the Superman franchise was then over.
  • Written by Cast Member: Christopher Reeve has co-story credit (and later won a case against the film's screenwriters when they claimed he didn't think up the plot). Since he's also credited with directing the second unit, this qualifies for Directed by Cast Member as well.
  • You Look Familiar: Robert Beatty (U.S. President) previously played the Tanker Commander in Superman III.
    • Eugene Lipinski AKA "Comrade Sinatra" previously played the Metropolis newsstand guy (the one whose papers flew off as Superman arrived) in Superman II.
    • John Hollis, one of the Kryptonian elders also appeared in II as a Kryptonian elder, the one who recited "Trees".
    • Mr. Hornsby's actor Don Fellows also played the "I answer only to the President" general in II (his voice was redubbed in the latter; Mr. Hornsby's voice is the actor's).

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