Lucas’ ‘THX’ gets upgrade

Enhanced director's cut to preem at Guggenheim

HOLLYWOOD — “THX 1138,” the 1971 sci-fi film that started it all for George Lucas, has been digitally revised by the helmer and will be re-released theatrically in September.

Lucas will attend a premiere of the digitally enhanced “director’s cut” at the Guggenheim Museum in New York on Sept. 9. Francis Ford Coppola, who produced the movie, is also expected to attend.

Warner Home Video will unspool the film in 20 cities beginning the next day, mostly in digital theaters.

The DVD, featuring extensive bonus features in a two-disc collector’s edition, will be released Sept. 14.

Although there are a few snippets of extra footage throughout the movie, the primary differences in the new version, in addition to the digital video and audio restoration, are digitally enhanced backgrounds, cityscapes and crowds of people creating a sense of greater scope that Lucas was unable to generate at the time with his limited budget and technology, according to Lucasfilm VP of marketing and distribution Jim Ward.

Pic stars Robert Duvall as a numbered drone factory worker in a 25th century totalitarian state who is inspired by his roommate to stop taking government-mandated sedatives.

“THX 1138” is “how I saw 1970,” Lucas said in a statement. “It was designed as a metaphor for the way we were living at the time. The world has taken a strange twist from there, but I think the ideas that we examined in ‘THX 1138’ are still valid in the 21st century.”

The film was made at the height of the American independent filmmaking movement in San Francisco, and Gary Leva has produced an original one-hour documentary for the DVD called “A Legacy of Filmmakers: The Early Years of American Zoetrope,” which chronicles the radically new independent studio. Doc will be shown prior to the movie’s premiere at the Guggenheim.

In addition to Lucas, Coppola and Duvall, the doc also includes interviews with Martin Scorsese, John Milius, Matthew Robbins, Walter Murch, Caleb Deschanel and others who helped build American Zoetrope.

Also included on the DVD is Lucas’ short “Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB,” upon which the movie is based. Lucas produced the short while a student at USC.

Other bonus features include audio commentary by Lucas and co-writer and sound designer Murch; 30-minute doc “Artifact From the Future,” which explores the tumultuous production of “THX 1138”; and “Theatre of Noise,” an isolated sound-effects track and branching video that showcases the film’s pioneering sound design.

DVD release will precede the monumental DVD premiere of Lucas’ “Star Wars Trilogy” by just two weeks. Ward said the timing was coincidental and hinged to the opportunity to premiere “THX 1138” at the Guggenheim.