Sunday, January 29, 2006

Spiderman, Spiderman

Last night, my wife and I watched Spiderman, which is strange when you consider that Kathy is terrified of spiders in general. If you were to ask Kathy what her biggest fear is, she would probably say that it's walking through a cave full of spider webs and having somebody behind her push her through the webs, and her getting all bitten and not being able to scream for fear of swallowing spiders. Yet, she's the one who suggested we buy the movie. Now, the reasoning for this was because, it is a good movie. And, she wanted to see Spiderman 2 when it came out. And, it just so happened, that before Spiderman 2 came out, a special deluxe edition was released that came with one free ticket to see the new movie. So, we bought it. Widescreen, of course, which is what I wanted to talk about, but Spiderman was a nice segue.

So, widescreen is the better format. People who routinely buy the full screen edition of movies are really missing out on (depending on the aspect ratio) fifty percent of the film. This means nothing more than to point out that people are idiots. Where this all falls down, though, is that most people hate the black bars at the top and bottom of their screens, because they think it means they're missing out on part of the movie.

I tell people at work (I make my living peddling movies and other entertaining media) who are unsure about what to buy to look at the screen next time they go to the movies, keeping in mind how wide it is compared to how tall it is, and then to compare that to their televisions when they get home. Some can actually picture it. Others just scoff at me and buy the full screen editions. The problem about this is that after a movie has been a new release for a while, the store I work for (Target, Target, the store is Target and I hope that's the last time I mention it in my blog but probably won't be) will often discontinue carrying one version, and due to sales of full screen often outperforming the widescreen, it's the widescreen we discontinue.

It's nice when the studio puts both versions in the same packaging, such as Finding Nemo, where when you buy it you get the widescreen movie and some special features on disc one, and the full screen movie and the rest of the special features on disc two. What's better, though, is more like March of the Penguins, where all they released was the Widescreen version. Movies that are released in both theatrical and unrated directors cuts are nice, because they know the unrated will sell better. The directors get ahold of that information and, more recently, only release the unrated edition in widescreen. Directors prefer whatever it was shot in, which is, most often, widescreen, and so the director's cut makes more sense in Widescreen.

Watch in widescreen. In a few years, when you have to buy an HDTV, buy one in widescreen, then the black bars will at least get smaller on some movies (ones with wider aspect ratios like Lord of the Rings) and completely disappear on others (more traditional aspect ratios of 16X9, like most TV shows broadcast in widescreen such as Arrested Development, which is by the way the best show on television but I think it got cancelled for real this time...but that's the subject of another blog...). Anyway, so, yes.

Buy your DVDs in Widescreen.

Oh, older movies, like those made prior to the proliferation of television in the 1950's and some of those made shortly thereafter, and also some arthouse pictures, were shot in a standard television-proportioned aspect ratio, so don't cry if you can't find The Maltese Falcon in widescreen because it doesn't exist.

Discussed in this post:
March of the Penguins (Widescreen Edition)

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