For US audiences, the title The Wicker Man may bring to mind a particularly unfortunate collaboration between Nicolas Cage and writer-director Neil LaBute — but hopefully that will soon change when a restored version of the 1973 UK original hits theaters. Starring Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward, the film tells the story of a police officer who investigates a missing young girl only to discover a group of pagan worshippers on a remote Scottish island. While it's been both a cult and critical favorite since its release, it has primarily been seen in modified versions that differed from director Robin Hardy's original vision. As the Los Angeles Times reports, however, a version of that original cut has been located and restored, and now The Wicker Man — The Final Cut will be rolling out in limited release starting September 27th in New York.
With the original camera negative of the film destroyed years ago, it was widely believed that Hardy's version was simply lost to time. However, various cut scenes from the film would occasionally surface, and earlier this year Studiocanal started a campaign to locate all of the missing material. The search led to the discovery of a 35mm print of the 92-minute original US cut at the Harvard Film Archive. That print was scanned, digitally restored, and sent to Hardy for approval. The director — now 83 — confirmed it was the cut he had prepared 40 years ago, saying that this final release "fulfills my vision." Rialto Pictures is handling the theatrical dates, and the New York screenings will be followed by a variety of other engagements, including dates in Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles.