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Fathom Events Shows THE THING In Wrong Aspect Ratio

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  • Fathom Events Shows THE THING In Wrong Aspect Ratio

    Over the weekend, FATHOM events had several anniversary screenings of John Carpenter's
    THE THING. While I haven't been able to find any news stories, there is a twitter thread and
    comments on several movie related websites that many locations showed it in the wrong aspect
    ratio- - annoying many fans of the movie. It seems to have been pretty wide-spread and was
    reported by viewers in NY, Burbank, and at several assorted venues nationwide.

    I haven't worked with FATHOM stuff, so I'm curious how they distribute their content. I know
    they distribute some live events- - but, assuming that their copy of THE THING was rendered
    correctly in SCOPE, but simply mis-labeled as FLAT on either a DCP or info provided to the
    theater, my question is: Shouldn't any alert projectionist have been able to correct the image
    by simply switching their projector to their SCOPE setting?

    (Of course, the key phrase here is "alert projectionist" - which unfortunately is often an oxymoron. )
    Last edited by Jim Cassedy; 06-20-2022, 06:31 PM.

  • #2
    They use two distribution methods; either standard 2K/4K DCP or a satellite feed which is recorded to a DVR in 1080i. Seems the latter was used in this case and Universal supplied Fathom with a flat 1.85:1 version intended for TV broadcast, with the edges cropped off. There's been sufficient furore over this that Fathom are sending out a proper DCP for screenings on Wednesday.

    More details here:


    • #3
      The only Fathom event I have been to see, perhaps six years ago while I still lived in Utah, was It's A Mad Mad World. That looked really good and it was also the correct aspect ratio of 2.76:1.


      • #4

        Mark G Said:
        The only Fathom event I have been to see, perhaps six years ago
        while I still lived in Utah, was It's A Mad Mad World.
        - but, Mark- - if that's actually what you saw, they left out two "Mad's"!


        • #5
          The "alert" projectionist is an increasingly rare breed. Haven't read beyond this thread about the exact situation with this content, but there are many many Fathom installations at multiplexes. Even the alert projectionist at a multiplex who identifies a format issue often does not have the login credentials, knowledge, or software to create a macro/channel/title/function for a less common format like, say, scope in a 1080p container.

          If the issue was simply mislabeled documentation or DCP, then shame on everyone involved.

          Edit - Yikes, it was Universal's choice of version and delivery method. Good on them for swiftly recovering the situation.
          Last edited by John Thomas; 06-21-2022, 12:25 PM.


          • #6
            Most people don't even know what "aspect ratio" means.

            How can you expect people to get something right when they don't even understand what "right" means or even that there is a "right" and a "wrong" way to do something?

            I used to run into this problem on an almost daily basis. Operators don't even know the difference between "flat" and "scope," let alone understand what they are or why movies are made in one or the other ratio.

            I had a conversation (more like an argument) with a projection booth manager who was trying to tell me that we should zoom in on the flat picture to make it the same size as the scope picture or else zoom out on the scope picture to make it the same size as flat. I could not impress upon him that doing so would either crop off the top and bottom of one picture or leave black bars on the screen. His answer was to stretch or shrink the image, vertically, to make it fit. He had abso-freakin'-lutely no concept in his mind that doing so would stretch the image and make it look weird. Finally, I just told him to do it the way he was told or else get out of the booth.

            This guy also thought he was psychic. He would go on and on about how he thought he knew what people were thinking until, one day, I got fed up and told him that, if he really was psychic, he should call the James Randi Foundation to claim their $1,000,000 prize. Shut him up, pretty quick, that did.

            There's probably somebody just like him running things at Fathom.
            Now that things are done digitally, it's easy to stretch or shrink the image boundaries to make it fit any size screen.

            I haven't got a problem with people who ask questions and want to learn things, even if they get it wrong in the process. My problem is when you tell somebody what is being done, why it is being done and that it is an agreed-upon standard which needs to be observed for good reason. The person will ignore advice, go off and do things their own way then, when things don't work, they come back and ask you why. When you tell them it's because they didn't do as they were told, they get a crestfallen expression on their face like somebody just killed their puppy.

            Even though I often seem to be unforgiving, I think I am pretty tolerant. My problem is that I have a sharp drop off in my tolerance levels and I'm prone to snap on somebody when they repeatedly don't listen. I'll tell somebody how do do something twice but, when I get to the third strike, I hit my limit. That's when I start saying things like, "Just shut the fuck up and do what you are told!"

            If I was at a Fathom show where the aspect ratio was wrong, I would have a lot less tolerance than usual because I'm paying money to see the show.
            I'd go find somebody in charge and tell them to fix it. If I got a lot of lame excuses, I'd tell them, "Fix it or give me my money back!"


            • #7
              I wonder if those who paid to see it "wrong" will be allowed to see it again "right"?


              • #8
                Instead of repeating this newer "Thing" They should run the older and much better "Thing" that was made in 1952....


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mark Gulbrandsen View Post
                  Instead of repeating this newer "Thing" They should run the older and much better "Thing" that was made in 1952....
                  And show it in scope;> Colorized!


                  • #10
                    I'll pass on the colorized version...


                    • #11
                      The 1952 version is pretty darn good, but Ennio Morricone's soundtrack makes the "new one" shine.


                      • #12
                        I like both the 1951 (I think it was?) and the 1982 version... I wouldn't want to see a colorized version of the 1951 version, unless maybe... it was done in such way that it looks like it always was in color...


                        • #13
                          I always felt the B&W imagery contributed to the overall atmosphere of the film, plus there are almost no technical special effects in the early version except costumes, make up, and fire. It was the first time a stunt man had ever done a full body burn in any movie.


                          • #14
                            Agreed that the early '50s Thing is unfairly forgotten. However, if Fathom can't get 1.85 right, what hope is there for 1.37?!


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mark Gulbrandsen View Post
                              I always felt the B&W imagery contributed to the overall atmosphere of the film...
                              It does. Black and white is often a better choice.

                              I attended a lecture by the guy who was Jackie Kennedy's "official" photographer. I forget his name but it's not that paparazzi guy that Jackie sent the Secret Service after. I mean the guy who photographed her for the cover of Time Magazine. I suppose I could look it up but I think you know who I mean.

                              Anyhow, at the end of his lecture, during the question period, he was asked about shooting in black and white versus color. To summarize his answer, he said that, when you make any photograph, you are using a camera to compress the three-dimensional world down into two dimensions. In so doing, you have to be careful about creating "visual clutter" which can obscure the intent of the photo. He said that color often adds to that visual clutter unless color is part of the composition. Unless the photo is "about color" [his words] or unless you carefully compose color into the photo, it's often better to use black and white. In summary, he said that it's often better to allow the viewer to "mentally insert their own colors" into the image because the photo will have more psychological impact that way.

                              I would say that a movie like "The Thing" would be better filmed in black and white because the viewer adds their own information into the imagery, creating more psychological impact.

                              It's kind of like the way the movie "Alien" only showed the monster on-screen for less than thirty seconds during the entire movie. It made the movie much scarier because your imagination has to fill in the blanks.

                              Shooting "The Thing" in black and white makes it scarier because the viewer also has to fill in some of the blanks.
                              Last edited by Randy Stankey; 06-22-2022, 12:53 PM.