This is the "Home Theater Forum" after all! Movies are exhibited a certain way commercially for very specific reasons. Those reasons include: artistic, scientific, technical, and financial. Folks in this forum have a wide range of opinions about what defines "home theater" for them. For me, the fundamental purpose of having a home theater is to provide the most authentic reproduction possible of cinematic art in a residence. I agree with imaging guru Joe Kane's slogan: "It's all about the art."
Academy screening rooms are used for the most critical evaluation of cinematic productions to judge their quality, and for awarding Oscar statuettes. Those rooms have two-piece projection, multi-channel sound systems, not televisions in them. Movies are mostly produced for exhibition in commercial theaters on large projection systems. The aspect ratio of the production is usually determined for artistic reasons by the director, prior to shooting the first frame. Wide aspect ratios were first implemented in order to offer a greater panorama of action and scene composition to entice audiences back into the cinema in the early days of television. The best theaters use masking from the sides, rather than masking from the top to accommodate differing aspect ratio productions. "CinemaScope" movies are intended to be viewed larger and wider than television programs.
The best way to replicate the CinemaScope experience in the home, via a video reproduction system, is with a 2.35/2.40:1 aspect ratio screen and projector. Narrower aspect ratio programs can be shown on the same screen at the same height, leaving empty space on the sides. Masking of the sides can be accomplished in a variety of ways.
My system uses a "constant image height" (CIH) setup. Due to financial constraints, I chose a zoom and shift method, rather than an anamorphic lens. The projector has sufficient zoom ratio, and vertical lens shift travel, to fill the 2.35:1 screen properly for the vast majority of movie and video formats. My projector does not have a motorized lens or lens memories, so I have to make adjustments manually. It is suspended from a 7.5' ceiling, so I can reach the adjustments from a standing position. The screen is masked from the sides with dark drapes, and black fabric is on the wall behind, above, and below the screen. Both the projector and screen were designed by Joe Kane, and are used by studios and post production facilities for large format, quality control display.
One of the benefits of the zoom approach is the ability to project aspect ratios between 1.78:1 and 2.40:1 without image loss or black bars being visible. Some of the great blockbuster films of all time have aspect ratios between those sizes. From what I have read and learned from respected sources over recent years, the anamorphic lens method is not justified considering the substantial cost difference. It appears to me the primary benefit for some folks is with the motorized lens sled versions. Being able to automate the process of switching to a wide aspect ratio will simplify the process, and add the sex appeal of automation in a system. The difference in image quality between zooming or anamorphic lens methods is minimal. Each method has pros and cons that don't really amount to much of a difference.
The best system I've yet seen is Anthony Grimani's PMI 2.0 system , or its equivalent. However, it is very expensive to implement fully. It uses a four-way, auto masking screen, and automated, cinema grade, multi-format zoom lens. It would be the ideal system for taking ultimate advantage of a 4K/UHDTV/2160p projector. However, the screen alone costs more than many on this forum have invested in their entire system.
Best regards and beautiful pictures,
G. Alan Brown, President
A Lion AV Consultants affiliate
"Advancing the art and science of electronic imaging"