Filmmaker Richard Donner, who helped create the modern superhero blockbuster with 1978’s “Superman” and mastered the buddy comedy with the “Lethal Weapon” franchise, has died. He was 91.
Donner died Monday in Los Angeles, his family said through a spokesperson.
Donner gained fame with his first feature, 1976’s “The Omen.” A then-unheard-of offer followed: $1 million to direct 1978’s “Superman.” Donner channeled his love of the character into making the film, repeatedly facing off with producers over the need for special effects that would convince the audience that a superhero could really fly. In the title role, Donner cast Christopher Reeve, who was associated with “Superman” for the rest of his life.
By the 21st century, the genre was dominating the box office in the U.S. and thriving overseas. The heads of Marvel Studios and DC Entertainment—producers of most of today’s superhero fare— both worked for Donner when they were starting out in Hollywood.
Steven Spielberg, who produced “The Goonies,” wrote in a statement that, “Dick had such a powerful command of his movies, and was so gifted across so many genres.