Ilya Salkind and his father made numerous films, starting with The Three Musketeers (1973) and its 1974 follow-up, The Four Musketeers — marking one of the first instances of which a major motion picture and its immediate sequel were shot simultaneously.
William Goldman was approached to write the script though Ilya personally cited creative differences, and eventually hired Mario Puzo. The desperate search for a director then took place. Steven Spielberg expressed high interest and Salkind felt comfortable in hiring him upon being impressed with his work on Duel and The Sugarland Express, though Alexander was skeptical, feeling that Spielberg wasn't famous enough and claimed they needed to wait until "that fish movie of his" was released. Jaws was released with unanimous success, though by this time it was far too late as Spielberg opted to do Close Encounters of the Third Kind instead.
Peter Yates was interested in directing and was involved in negotiations though for unknown reasons the deal collapsed. Both William Friedkin and Sam Peckinpah were offered the chance to direct. Friedkin turned down the offer outright while Peckinpah dropped out of the running when he produced a gun during a meeting with Ilya. Richard Lester, Guy Hamilton, George Lucas, John Guillermin and Ronald Neame were then considered though Lucas was dropped as Ilya found out he was too committed on Star Wars. It was decided to go with Hamilton as Ilya was impressed with his work on Goldfinger and Battle of Britain.
Ilya Salkind originally recommended Mario Puzo to write the script as a serious science fiction epic. Although Puzo did impress Ilya with certain aspects, Ilya felt the script remained intact with being overall campy, as did Guy Hamilton. In addition they cited too much "Greek tragedy and Shakespearean" elements. A fourth villain sentenced to the Phantom Zone named Zak-Ur appeared as a comedic henchman. By this time, Puzo felt he "could do all he could," turning in two drafts, and David Newman and Robert Benton were hired for rewrite work, as a means to delete objectionable material concerning an excessive amount of comedic scenes. Leslie Newman was brought in once Benton left to direct The Late Show.
Casting started to take place, as Alexander Salkind personally wanted a famous actor in the role of Superman. Dustin Hoffman was once again highly considered though the idea was dropped. Robert Redford was offered the part, though he personally felt he was too famous, feeling he wasn't right for the role, as did Burt Reynolds. After the success of Rocky, Sylvester Stallone lobbied hard for the role but was ignored. Paul Newman was offered all three roles of Superman, Jor-El and Lex Luthor to his choosing though he didn't accept either one, for a salary of $4 million. Nick Nolte and Rex Harrison would both turn it down. It was decided to focus on casting Jor-El and Lex Luthor and save Superman for later. Hoffman was then offered the role of Luthor, and although he was interested, he turned it down. Marlon Brando would eventually be cast as Jor-El, causing Gene Hackman to be cast as Luthor he wanted to desperately work with Brando. Impressed by the producers' ability to cast famous actors in respective roles, Warner Brothers decided to distribute the film foreign, rather than simply domestically.
Sets were then being initiated in Rome, Italy as well as having flying tests being experimented. However, Brando couldn't arrive in Rome as there was still a warrant out for his arrest in Last Tango in Paris due to sexual obscenity. It was decided to move the production to England but Hamilton himself was a tax exile from his native country, which only allowed him to spend no more than 60 days a year. The director was forced to drop out because of Brando's actions and by this time six million dollars had already been spent on the production. Mark Robson was then in negotiations to direct after Ilya was impressed with his work on Earthquake. However, after viewing Richard Donner's The Omen it was decided otherwise.
The Salkinds returned to the Superman mythology again in 1988, this time as a TV series, with Superboy, starring John Haymes Newton in the title role during its first year, Gerard Christopher as the Boy of Steel for the remainder of the show's existence, and Stacy Haiduk as Lana Lang, lasted four seasons, running for 100 episodes. Following the Team's last film, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992), Ilya and his then wife, Jane Chaplin (daughter of Geraldine and grand-niece of Charlie Chaplin) settled in Orlando, Florida, where much of the Superboy series had been filmed. There, Ilya and Jane took a sabbatical and devoted their time to raising their two sons. In 1999, the couple amicably separated.
Ilya and his then wife, Jane Chaplin CORRECTION: (youngest daughter of Charlie Chaplin and sister of Geraldine)
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Apr 28, 2003; HOLLYWOOD -- Emmett/Furla Films has teamed with Ilya Salkind and Gale Anne Hurd to develop and produce "The Abominable Snowman."...
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