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Discontinuation of Widescreen Format
Enthusiast - Level 3

Hello All, I did a search on "widescreen, letterbox, discontinuation, original aspect ratio, etc... and found null,zip, zero. I have been an ardent supporter of  home video programming shown in the original aspect ratio chose by the director and cinematographer. I was among the early adopters of laser disc so I could see the wonders of films as the director envisioned it. I was pleased and quite frankly amazed when LBX/WS/OAR (letterbox, widescreen, original aspect ratio) films first showed up in Blockbuster, and then became the accepted norm!  I thought the uninformed public, who felt they were being cheated by those "horrible, distracting black bars" at the top and bottom of the screen, had finally realized the benefits of films in their OAR. Recently, the HD channels of HBO/Cinemax/Encore/Starz  stopped showing >95% of films in their OAR, reverting to the criminal "cropping"(a.k.a. "panning and scanning") of the image to completely fill the screen. Is anyone else outraged by this? To the people who just can't get past those "annoying" black bars: I am assuming 90% of the people who shell out the outrageous amount of $$ for HD programming have 16:9 AR televisions, and have  various zoom functions in the video controls menu. Accordingly, these people could reduce and/or eliminate the black bars if they chose to do so. If that floats your boat, so be it. However, I have no magic button to switch from the butchered, cropped versions back to the OAR image. This elimination of OAR programming, to a true videophile and lover of cinema such as myself, is nothing short of criminal. Is there anyone else out there that shares my indignation? Let me be clear-- I make no judgments on the people who insist on watching cropped versions of films. However, I feel I should have the choice of being able to view the OAR version if  I choose to do so. This discontinuation, coupled with the incessant repetition of certain films for months on end have really detracted from my FIOS experience, which has otherwise been great. I realize Verizon can only pass along the feed it receives from HBO, but I simply can not understand why HBO et al chose to revert to the panned and scanned format, and also why there is no widespread outrage about it. Am I alone here? What, if anything, can we do? ( The last question is purely rhetorical in nature...)                                                                           Give Me OAR Or Give Me Death,    MacReady

Re: Discontinuation of Widescreen Format
Master - Level 3

While I agree I would like to see everything in OAR, I'm not sure what good posting in the FIOS forum will do since they have no control over the video feeds (as you said).  You need to make your complaint known to the providers in question.

I hope your post was at least cathartic for you and no you are not alone.

Re: Discontinuation of Widescreen Format
Specialist - Level 1

Boy, do I agree 100% with MacReady 100%!!!!    However, there has been some outrage about it, particularly regarding the new EPIX channel, which has cropped IRON MAN, INDY 4 (and all the INDY films), and any newer film..  (Old films are OAR on EPIX because those masters already existed prior to cropping.) Movies are also ruined OnDemand (which is why I almost never use that service).  Paying $6.00 for a cropped film is no bargain..  This reprehensible practice was initiated by HBO and I'll probably be dropping HBO because I'm just sick of paying for a channel that has such contempt. both for the films and the viewers.  In addition, some filmmakers hate this as well,  but it is usually out of their control. (Here is a link to director Steven Soderbergh's view on this:

Unfortunately, aside from conveying subscriber's displeasure at this practice, there is little that Verizon can do about it.  All we can do is let the channels know how we feel. But don't expect much. HBO, in particular, is notorious for not giving a **bleep** about what subscribers think about anything!

Re: Discontinuation of Widescreen Format

I am with you on this.  Vote with your feet....cancel HBO.   I am a new FIOS customer and I didn't sign up for HBO.   Showtime and the other movie channels that come with it also have better content as far as I am concerned.