‘Caligula’ Returns to Theaters in All Its Uncut Glory — Watch the 4K Restoration Trailer

Hollywood just can’t stop thinking about the Roman Empire. Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator 2” is in the works, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Roman epic-inspired “Megalopolis” premieres in theaters in September. Now, the infamously iconic “Caligula” is landing a recut and 4K restoration.

IndieWire exclusively unveils the official trailer and poster for “Caligula: The Ultimate Cut.” The all-new cut features never-before-seen footage, including alternate takes and camera angles, and with — for the first time ever — the complete film narrative. Drafthouse Films acquired “Caligula: The Ultimate Cut” after its 2024 Cannes Film Festival premiere and will take the movie back to theaters this summer.

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Released in 1980 after director Tinto Brass disavowed his credit amid extensive changes, the controversial classic made history as the most expensive independent film of all time. Gore Vidal’s script centered on the corrupting influence of power and sexuality of the Roman court, with Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, Peter O’Toole, and John Gielgud leading the cast. Yet the film was financed by Penthouse founder Bob Guccione, who took control of the negative and added graphic scenes of unsimulated sex and extreme violence. The cast and film team, including production designer Danilo Donati, rejected what the movie became, and Vidal sued to remove his name from the project. Of course, its notoriety led to a cult following.

Decades later, almost 100 hours of original “Caligula” footage was discovered by art historian Thomas Negovan in the Penthouse archive. Negovan led the reconstruction of the film. Now, the “Ultimate Cut” has removed Guccione’s interference to bring the film closer to Vidal’s original script. Graphic artist Dave McKean added a prologue that illustrates one of Vidal’s missing scenes, and composer Troy Sterling Nies created a new wraparound score.

“Drafthouse Films is a beacon of excellence and taste in independent cinema, and in the three years while I was constructing the film I hoped that they would be involved in bringing ‘Caligula: The Ultimate Cut’ to American audiences,” producer Negovan said with the announcement. “I am breathing an enormous sigh of relief that this new look at a legendary film is in their hands!”

McDowell added in the announcement, “‘Caligula’ is certainly among the most demanding and challenging roles I’ve ever undertaken, so it was a great surprise to learn and then see that the work would finally be rewarded in a complete reconstruction that honors the serious intentions of the talent in front of and behind the screen. I never thought my full performance would ever be seen or Helen Mirren’s moving, commanding ‘Caesonia’ would at last be unearthed. It is an unprecedented odyssey.”

The new poster for the film was designed by Bill Sienkiewicz, who’s worked on graphic novels such as “The Sandman: Endless Nights,” “Elektra: Assassin,” “New Mutants,” “Moon Knight,” and more.

Sienkiewicz said the poster was meant to correct the “disservice” of the film’s initial 1980 release and cut.

“I’m old enough to recall the uproar surrounding the release of the infamous Bob Guccione version of ‘Caligula,'” Sienkiewicz said. “The cast — Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, John Gielgud and Peter O’Toole, among others — as well as the inherently fascinating subjects of Rome and Emperor Caligula were done a disservice by that initial release. So I was beyond intrigued when Thomas Negovan told me he was remastering and re-editing the film into an entirely new version with never-before-seen footage. When he invited me to create the poster for the new version, I jumped at the chance. I’m honored to be a part of it. What Thomas has done transcends a cinematic resurrection; he’s found the art and the heart that was long buried.”

Drafthouse Films will release “Caligula: The Ultimate Cut” in theaters nationwide on August 16, followed by a streaming and 4K UHD Blu-ray release that includes new cast and crew interviews.

Check out the “Caligula: The Ultimate Cut” trailer and new poster below.


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