After a series of unsuccessful projects to resurrect Superman on the screen, Warner Bros. hired Bryan Singer to direct and develop Superman Returns in July 2004. The majority of principal photography took place at Fox Studios Australia, Sydney, while the visual effects sequences were created by Sony Pictures Imageworks; filming ended in November 2005. Preceded by an extensive marketing campaign at the cost of $44.5 million, Superman Returns was released to positive reviews and received many award nominations, but Warner Bros. was disappointed with the $391 million worldwide box office return and is planning to reboot the series, rather than doing a sequel. As a result, the studio has put the Superman franchise on hold.
Superman (Brandon Routh), having been missing for several years, traveled to where astronomers believed they had discovered the remains of Krypton. During his absence, Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) was released from prison and married a rich widow to obtain her fortune upon her death. Superman, having failed in his hopes to find surviving Kryptonians, returns to Earth and, as Clark Kent, resumes his job at the Daily Planet in Metropolis. He subsequently learns that Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has won the Pulitzer Prize for her article “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman.” Meanwhile, Luthor travels to the Fortress of Solitude and steals Kryptonian crystals, which he uses for an experiment that causes a power outage on the East Coast. The power loss interferes with the flight test of a space shuttle to be launched into space from its piggy-back mounting on an airliner, occupied by Lois Lane who is covering the story. Clark flies into action as Superman and stops the plane from crashing onto a baseball stadium.