Superman Fights Technology and Enormous Computers
Warner Brothers released June 17, 1983
Opening weekend earnings: $13,352,357 (USA)
Total gross: $59,950,623 (USA)
Directed by Richard Lester
Superman III is either an atrocious train-wreck of a movie or it's a strangely brilliant series of goofy sketches.
The critical opinion since the film's release in 1983 is that it is a pretty bad movie: disconnected story-telling, filler scenes that do not do anything vis-a-vis the plot and then trapped in all of this are good actors doing what they do as if it could overcome the shroud of lousiness pervading the movie.
Not that the film is not highly watchable: there are many story ideas here which get mangled up in the telling (or maybe just didn't belong, adding to the krazy-quilt story structure) but create a Plan 9 from Outer Space feeling to someof the proceedings..
The budget on this superhero film must've been massive: there are gigantic scenes and 1983-circa special effects that are impressive in that context. Richard Pryor is funny and earnest; Christopher Reeve plays Superman like nobody else (in fact he plays two Supermen in this movie - - one good and one gone bad which brings about a strange duel with himself in a junkyard); and then there's all the other eye candy director Richard Lester throws up on screen, especially the scene of a snow-villa penthouse with ski-ramp atop a skyscraper in summer-time Metropolis, the lair of villain Ross Webster (played by Robert Vaughn).
Vaughn doesn't have much to do except play a kind of reversioned Lex Luther, and Pamela Stephenson and Annie Ross are more or less replacements for the same type of roles that were done by Valerie Perrine and Maria Schell in the earlier Superman films from director Richard Donner.
[Below] Superman II has Christopher Reeve getting soused in a bar.
[Below] By Superman III Chris Reeve was an old pro with hanging suspended from wires, but I wonder how Richard Pryor took to it?
One of the features in this 1983 film is the meant-to-impress computer technology. It's museum stuff now, but at the time of the film's release it was a peek at an ultra-modern high-tech universe most people had little to do with. Large buttons, whirring reel-to-reel tape, and an undefined ability of the equipment to do just about anything via electric computation has more of a 1950s feel that later 20th century. The limitations of computer technology has become the 21st century experience of nearly everyone since the advent of personal computers in the later 1980s, but in this 1983 film, though, the computer was still an unlimited idea with god-like powers.
After the (relatively) high standards set in Superman and Superman II, seeing Superman III it is a revelation in how a movie studio can lose its head. So many of the elements are the same, yet handled so badly.
[Below] Superman faces off with actress Pamela Stephenson.
[Above] Mad Magazine Superman III Parody Cover
[Below] Christopher Reeve fixes the Tower of Pissa in Superman III
For comparison: Superman III made a great deal of money in 1983 terms. Here's a list of the top twenty movies from 1983 (based on the Box Office Mojo records online):
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi - Lucasfilm/Fox $475,106,177
- Terms of Endearment - Paramount $108,423,489
- Flashdance - Paramount $92,921,203
- Trading Places - Paramount $90,404,800
- WarGames - MGM/UA $79,567,667
- Octopussy - MGM/UA $67,893,619
- Sudden Impact - Warner Bros. $67,642,693
- Staying Alive - $64,892,670
- Mr. Mom - Fox $64,783,827
- Risky Business - Warner Bros. $63,541,777
- National Lampoon's Vacation - Warner Bros. $61,399,552
- Superman III - Warner Bros. $59,950,623
- The Big Chill - Columbia Pictures $56,342,711
- Never Say Never Again - $55,432,841
- Jaws 3-D - Universal Studios$45,517,055
- Scarface - Universal Studios $44,668,798
- Blue Thunder - Columbia Pictures $42,313,354
- Yentl - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $40,218,899
- Silkwood - 20th Century Fox $35,615,609
- Psycho II - Universal Studios $34,725,000
Superman III - Amazon Watch Now
Pamela Stephenson Promo Still from Superman III
Limited Collector Edition
Top Earning World Wide Superhero Films
List Updated July 17, 2017
*Currently in release in movie theatres
- The Avengers (2012 Marvel Studios) $1,511,757,910 Billion
- Avengers Age of Ultron (2015 Marvel Studios) $1.402 Billion
- Iron Man 3 (2013 Marvel Studios) $1,212,795,474 Billion
- Captain America Civil War: $1,153,294,011
- Dark Knight Rises (2012 Warners) 1,081,036,828 Billion
- The Dark Knight (2008 Warners Bros) $1,004,558,444 Billion
- Spiderman 3 (2007 Sony) $890.9 Million
- Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice (Warners 2016) $872,662,631
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017 Marvel-Disney) $859,305,145 Million
- Spiderman (2002 Sony) $821.7 Million
15. Wonder Woman (2017 Warners) $764,886,078 Million
33. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017 Sony) $469,370,314 Million
Original Page October 10, 2008 | Updated Aug 2016