Do you remember how disappointed you were, years ago, when you got to the theater only to find out the THX showing of the movie you came to see was sold out? THX-approved cinemas are few and far between now, but they’re still out there, and will soon be playing a new version of the brand’s iconic Deep Note trailer which you can preview on YouTube.
Watching the trailer on your phone or laptop with dinky speakers won’t have quite the same emotional effect as seeing it in a theater with a properly spec’d 7.1 surround sound setup, but grab yourself a pair of giant headphones, turn off the lights, pour some Pepsi on the floor, and you’ll get about halfway there. If you’ve got a 4K TV in the living room with a decent soundbar, you’ll get even closer—minus the smell of fake butter.
Originally developed back in 1983 by Lucasfilm’s Tomlinson Holman as a way to ensure that the sound for Star Wars: Return of the Jedi would be accurately reproduced in theaters, THX is a quality control and certification system that takes into account everything from a cinema’s acoustic performance to the screen and projector’s image quality to even the amount of background noise heard inside the theater. Most audiences probably couldn’t hear the difference between a THX-approved theater and one that wasn’t, but what made THX popular among many movie fans was the iconic Deep Note glissando that played ahead of the film, which had originally been created by Lucasfilm’s James A. Moorer.
The Deep Note trailer evolved over the years from a simple blue box surrounding giant versions of the THX logo to complex animations that showed off the surround sound capabilities of theaters. It was as much a part of seeing a movie as were the film trailers that preceded it, but over time the Deep Note disappeared. Think back to the last time you saw it in front of a movie, it was probably ages ago, right? Even trying to find a THX-approved theater isn’t easy now. Fierce competition from other certification programs like Dolby and DTS whittled away at the number of THX-approved cinemas, and as moviegoers started to embrace home theaters and technologies like Blu-ray, so did THX.
The company expanded its certification program to home theater and mobile products, including sound cards after THX was bought by Creative Technology Limited back in 2002. Today THX is owned by Razer, and while it continues to certify multimedia products and consumer gear, it does still have a presence in the film industry and movie theaters. But depending on where you live, you might have to do some digging, and quite a bit of driving, to find a THX-certified theater playing this new Deep Note trailer in all its glory. We found just one within a 25-mile radius of our offices in New York.
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