Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What's with HBO?

Can anyone out there please explain why HBO, the premiere cable channel, doesn't show any of its feature films in wide screen? Never. Ever.

Yes, it shows its own original films letterboxed in wide screen.

And it shows its original series, such as "The Sopranos," in wide screen. Even Bill Maher and Bryant Gumble.

Their theatrical trailers are shown in wide screen, but not the films themselves.


Does anyone know? Can anyone explain this bizarre inconsistency? If so, share.

Enlighten me.

(Artwork: It isn't TV, it's HBO)


Adam Ross said...

A great question that I've wondered myself. A related note to ponder: I've heard that HBO's HD channel often doesn't show movies in their correct aspect ratio (i.e. putting a 2.35:1 movie in the HD ratio of 1.77:1). Not sure which is worse.

j. kaiser said...

Are we talking regular channels or HD? I for one don't understand why some HD channels air shows stretched from the formated version to fill the wide screen when they were originally broadcast in widescreen. IE: TNT HD stretches Bones and Angel ( both of which were broadcast in widescreen ) while showing every episode of Law & Order dating all the way back to 1990 ( before shows began to air in widescreen ) are shown in widescreen.

j. kaiser said...

Adam, some HD Movie channels format to keep the entire screen filled, while others don't. Comcast On Demand recently had Close Encounters in HD, but they formated it. Couldn't bring myself to watch it like that.
What I want really want is TCM to start broadcasting in HD. Everything is widescreen on that channel.

jbryant said...

I wondered the same thing yet again during HBO's recent free promo weekend (I have Showtime, Encore, etc., but dropped HBO a few years ago). It's truly a head-scratcher. I'm guessing it's something lame, like "viewers are used to seeing our theatrical movies aired full screen. But our original movies and series are always shown letterboxed, so viewers have gotten used to that, too. But we don't think they could handle it the other way around!"

The premium channels I do have are inconsistent on the issue. As is the On Demand stuff -- some offer full screen only, some widescreen only, some give you a choice. Why can't they ALL give you a choice? Frustrating!

I was quite irked a couple of days ago when I finally sat down to watch the 1959 widescreen Western "These Thousand Hills," which I'd recorded off Fox Movie Channel. They always show their widescreen films letterboxed (or so I thought -- after all, they invented CinemaScope). But after the widescreen credits, the film switched to pan-and-scan. I promptly turned it off. (At least they showed "Bigger Than Life" in a gorgeous letterboxed print.)

Anonymous said...

That's just plain weird

Jo Stanton said...

HBO should enter the 21st century! C'mon we can see the same films the right way on DVD

Jake said...

Good point. I hadn't noticed, but now that you mention it, you're right. Why would HBO show "The Sopranos" letter-boxed but not "Lord of the Rings"?

Anonymous said...

TCM doesn't broadcast in HD (in Philly at least) and honestly, compared to my HD channels, I can't watch it anymore. I hope that they're able to move over to HD, but I fear that they may be losing ratings in comparison to AMC-HD.

jbryant said...

My dad's cable service has AMC-HD. Mad Men truly looks spectacular that way. I don't have an HD set yet, however. Gotta start hoarding those pennies.

Anonymous said...

I have written to HBO at least 5 times and received no answer. I wrote to my local paper's tv department and they didn't know. I also wrote to my cable company and they don't know. Just how does one get in touch with HBO. I have been subscribing for years, but I've yet to watch an entire movie because, except for their own shows, they are never in widescreen.