Superman II is a 1980 superhero film directed by Richard Lester. It is a direct sequel to the 1978 film Superman and stars Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Terence Stamp, Ned Beatty, Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, and Jack O'Halloran. The film was released in Australia and mainland Europe on December 4, 1980, and in other countries throughout 1981. Selected premiere engagements of Superman II were presented in Megasound, a high-impact surround sound system similar to Sensurround.
Superman II is well known for its complicated production. The original director Richard Donner had completed, by his estimation, roughly 75% of the movie in 1977 before being taken off the project. Many of the scenes were shot by second director Richard Lester, who had been an uncredited producer on the first film. However, in order to receive full director's credit, Lester had to shoot up to 51% of the film, which included refilming several sequences originally filmed by Donner. According to statements made by Donner, roughly 25% of the theatrical cut of Superman II contains footage he shot, including all of Gene Hackman's scenes. In 2006, a re-cut of the film was released titled Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. The new version restores as much of Donner's original conception as possible, with approximately 83% of his footage included. Some of Lester's theatrical footage was retained to fill gaps in the story line that Donner had not been able to film before his firing.
The film was released to the general public in 1981, where it received mixed to positive reviews from film critics who praised the visual effects and story, but criticized the slapstick humor and themes. Despite this, it was a box office success, grossing more than $108 million worldwide at the time, and became the third highest grossing film of the year. Three years after the film's release, a second sequel, Superman III, was released which received a negative critical response. In 2006, Superman Returns, an alternative sequel directed by Bryan Singer was released. It ignored the events of Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
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