DVD Widescreen Reality Chart

(revised 05/10/99)
There's an identity crisis in the DVD industry. Some disks are 16:9 enhanced and some aren't. When we all start getting portable DVD players and HDTVs (further down the road after prices come out of the lunatic fringe), non-16:9 DVDs will size the SAME way they did on our old standard 4:3 TVs which is totally bogus. To add to the confusion you can't tell on a lot of DVD boxes which aspect you're getting.
The following table shows how current DVDs will show up on your new HDTV or portable DVD player. You can blow up the 4:3 aspect to fill a 16:9 screen, but will lose A LOT of detail. The sight of a 4:3 DVD blown up to 16:9 on our portable DVD player was enough to make us cry in anguish and go back to watching it at the 4:3 aspect as shown below. (See further comments below table).

 
Movie Title 16:9 
1.85:1

16:9
2.35:1

4.3
1.85:1

4:3 
2.35:1

4:3 
Standard
Aspect Ratio
Listed on Box
Prod.
Air Force One   X     X 2.35:1 widescreen/standard CT
All the President's Men X    
 
 X
matted widescreen enhanced 
/standard
WB
Amadeus   X     Flipper letterbox widescreen enhanced WB
Animal House X         1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen U
Apollo 13   X       2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen U
Austin Powers X       X 2:1 letterbox widescreen enchanced /standard NL
Basketball Diaries     X     widescreen version PP
The Black Stallion     X   X matted widescreen/standard MGM
Blade Runner   X     X 2.35:1 letterbox widescreen enhanced/standard WB
Body Heat X       X matted widescreen enhanced /standard WB
Chaplin     X     1.85:1 matted widescreen LE
City of Angels   X       matted widescreen WB
Clear and Present Danger      
X
  widescreen
PM
Contact   X       letterbox widescreen enhanced WB
Dangerous Liaisons X       X matted widescreen enhanced /standard WB
Dark City  
X
   
X
2.35:1 letterbox widescreen/standard
NL
Das Boot X       Flipper 1.85:1 deluxe widescreen CT
Dave X       X matted widescreen enhanced /standard WB
Deep Rising       X   2.35:1 widescreen HP
Demolition Man   X     X letterbox widescreen enhanced /standard WB
Dirty Dancing     X   X 1.85:1 matted widescreen/standard LE
Evita       X   2.35:1 widescreen HP
The Fabulous Baker Boys     X   X matted widescreen/standard LE
Fargo     X   X 1.85:1 matted widescreen /standard PG
Fiddler on the Roof   X       widescreen enhanced MGM
The Fifth Element   X     X 2.35:1 widescreen CT
First Knight X       X 1.85:1 letterbox widescreen enhanced/standard CT
Fletch X         1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen U
The Freshman X       X 1.85:1 widescreen/standard CT
The Fugitive X       X matted widescreen enhanced /standard WB
Gattica   X     X 2.35:1 widescreen/standard CT
Golden Eye   X     X? 16:9 widescreen/pan & scan standard 
[Note: only 16:9 version is accessible!]
MGM
The Grifters X         none listed HBO
Grosse Point Blank     X     1.85:1 widescreen HP
The Hunt for Red October      
X
  widescreeen (very poor transfer, lots of artifacting)
PM
In the Line of Fire   X       2.35:1 widescreen CT
It Could Happen to You X       X 1.85:1 widescreen/standard CT
L.A. Confidential   X       letterbox widescreen enhanced WB
La Femme Nikita       X   widescreen format T
L.A. Story     X     matted widescreen LE
Legal Eagles       X   2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen ("anamorphic" = "enhanced" but not on this disc!) U
Lethal Weapon X       X 1.85:1 matted widescreen 
16:9 enhanced /standard
WB
Lethal Weapon 2       X X letterbox widescreen enhanced 
/standard [Note: It is not enhanced]
WB
Lethal Weapon 3   X     X letterbox widescreen enhanced /standard WB
Little Women X         1.85:1 widescreen CT
Logan's Run   X       widescreen version enhanced MGM
Lord of Illusions  X         widescreen enhanced MGM
The Manchurian Candidate     X   X widescreen version/standard MGM
The Man in the Iron Mask X       X 1.85:1 widescreen enhanced 
/standard
MGM
The Mask of Zorro  
X
      2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen
CT
Midnight Cowboy     X   X 1.85:1 letterbox/standard MGM
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil X         matted widescreen enhanced WB
Moonstruck         X standard only  (great commentary track stuck with a standard aspect only, how sad!) MGM
Mortal Thoughts X       X 1.85:1 widescreen/standard CT
My Best Friend's Wedding   X     X 2:35:1 widescreen/standard CT
My Fair Lady  
X
      letterbox widescreen enhanced
WB
My Stepmother is an Alien X       X 1.85:1 widescreen/standard CT
The Net X       X 1.85:1 widescreen/standard CT
Only You X       X 1.85:1 widescreen/standard CT
Outbreak X       X matted widescreen 16:9 enhanced/standard WB
Outland       X X letterbox widescreen enhanced 
[Note: It is not enhanced]
WB
Palmetto   X     X letterboxed widescreen enhanced /standard WB
Peggy Sue Got Married X       X 1.85:1 widescreen/standard CT
The Pelican Brief   X     Flipper letterbox widescreen enhanced WB
Philadelphia X         1.85:1 widescreen CT
The Player X         1.85:1 letterbox 
widescreen enhanced
NL
Point of No Return X       X letterbox widescreen enhanced 
/standard
WB
Pretty Woman     X     1.85:1 widescreen TS
Pure Country X       X matted widescreen enhanced 
/standard
WB
The Quick and the Dead X       X 1.85:1 widescreen/standard CT
Red Heat     X   X 1.85:1 matted widescreen/standard LE
The Saint   X       widescreen 16 x 9 enhanced PM
The Secret Garden X       X matted widescreen enhanced WB
The Seventh Sign   X     X 2.35:1 widescreen/standard CT
Sleepless in Seattle X         1.85:1 widescreen CT
Sneakers X         1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen U
Somewhere in Time     X     1:85:1 widescreen U
Stargate     X   Flipper letterbox LE
Starman   X     X 2:35:1 widescreen/standard CT
Strangers on a Train, A 
Strangers on a Train, B
       
X
standard (101 min., Hollywood) 
standard (103 min., British)
WB
The Terminator     X     1.85:1 widescreen IE
Terminator 2   X       2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, 16.9 enchanced LE
Thelma and Louise       X X letterbox widescreen/standard MGM
This Is Spinal Tap     X     videoscope (original aspect ratio) NL
Thunderheart X       X 1.85:1 widescreen/standard CT
Tomorrow Never Dies   X     X widescreen enhanced/standard MGM
Total Recall     X   X widescreen/standard LE
Twister   X     X 2:35:1 letterbox widescreen, 
16.9 enhanced/standard
WB
2001: A Space Odyssey       X   widescreen (boy, is MGM getting a lot of flack about not enhancing this one!) MGM
U.S. Marshals X       X matted widescreen enhanced WB
WarGames     X     widescreen MGM
West Side Story   
      widescreen (beautiful enhancement. Almost makes up for non-enhancing 2001) MGM
While You Were Sleeping     X     1:85:1 widescreen HP
The Wild Bunch     X   Flipper letterbox widescreen WB
Wolf X       X 1:85:1 widescreen/standard CT
The Year of Living Dangerously   X       letterbox widescreen enhanced MGM
Zero Effect X       X matted widescreen enhanced WB

CT = Columbia/Tristar
HP = Hollywood Pictures (Disney)
IE = Image Entertainment
LE = Live Entertainment
MGM = Metro Goldwyn Mayer
NL = New Line
PM = Paramount
PG = Polygram
PP = Palm Pictures
U = Universal
T = Trimark
TS = Touchstone (Disney)
WB = Warner Bros.
Flipper = You have to flip the disc over half way through the movie. This disallows the flipside to contain a standard version.
 

We've sorted the screen aspects in our DVD library to show how they appear on our portable 16:9 widescreen DVD player. Now that we've figured out what all this means, our purchase of non-16:9 enhanced DVDs is dropping off sharply, so eventually the table above will show mostly 16:9 enhanced DVDs. Aspect graphics pictured above are for a widescreen TV. When we all start to get widescreen TVs (including portable DVD players), this is how our current DVDs will show up, folks!

You can't always tell from a DVD box if you are getting a 16:9 enhanced widescreen movie or a letterboxed movie on a standard 4:3 screen. The descriptions in many cases are identical for both (compare "Apollo 13" and "Legal Eagles," "Pretty Woman" and "Sleepless in Seattle", "Evita" and "The Fifth Element"). Since all DVD players can play 16:9 at letterboxed 4:3 there is no logical reason for the 4:3 widescreen (except that the studios want to make more money off us when we get HDTVs) and, as shown above, 4:3 for DVDs is very undesirable and outdated.

My favorite example of this aspect identity crisis is the "Lethal Weapon" movies. They got it right, then they got it wrong, then they got it right again. As widescreen TVs and portable DVD players become more prevalent, this aspect/enhancement issue will become critical. And all of this is in ADDITION to the fact that 16:9 enhancements have more pixels of information and hence a better picture. Blowing the 4:3 DVDs up to 16:9 will not work. So much detail is lost it's pathetic and as far as we're concerned, unwatchable. All companies need to interpret "widescreen" as including 16:9 enhancement NOW.

For more information on 16:9 enhancements and why the industry needs to support it, please visit the Anamorphic Widescreen Support Page.

Anamorphic Widescreen Support Page




Email address: mindharp@mythirdage.com

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