My widescreen request to HBO

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by SteveK, Feb 19, 2003.

  1. SteveK

    SteveK Supporting Actor

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    I just submitted an e-mail request to HBO reqeusting widescreen. My message was as follows:

    "Although I have heard many highly favorable comments about the original programming and movies offered by HBO, I currently have no intention to subscribe to HBO or any other premium channel. Why? Because I refuse to pay money to watch mutilated movies. Seeing movies presented properly on DVD, I simply cannot return to the "modified to fit your screen" pan and scan presentations currently offered by HBO and others. The constant camera movements, the loss of intended cinematography, the feeling of claustrophobia are all difficult to accept after seeing the beauty of a proper widescreen presentation. No, I don't have a widescreen television, I just have a 32" Sony. But I have grown to love DVD, in part because of the proper presentation of movies. The 5.1 sound also helps, but you now feature Dolby Digital on many of your films. Why offer all the sound but only part of the picture?

    Since I realize many of your subscribers may prefer the "fullscreen" presentation, I know you may not be able to switch entirely to widescreen, as you may lose a few customers in the process. However, I would like to suggest that you devote at least one day per week to showing movies in their original aspect ratio. For example, Wednesday; call it "Widescreen Wednesday!" Promote yourself as THE premium network to see movies as they were meant to be seen. If HBO could promise that every movie would be shown at least once in its proper aspect ratio, I would subscribe to HBO in a second.

    Again, I'm not asking for a complete changeover to widescreen, just one day per week where every movie is shown properly, regardless of its original aspect ratio (1.33:1; 1.85:1 or even 2.35:1). Or at least a promise that ALL movies will be shown at least once in their proper format.

    Please consider this request, and I look forward to your response. Thank you for taking the time to read this message."

    I'm sure my message will be ignored, but it was worth trying. If they do happen to respond to my request, I'll post it here. I'm not holding my breath, but a polite request can't hurt. I'm not expecting miracles, but you never know.

    Steve K.
     
  2. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    If you don't want your message to be ignored, print it out and mail it directly to them. Most media outlets never treat e-mail seriously no matter how well the e-mail may be written. But they will pay attention to snail mail even when it's badly written.

    I know. It's an outdated "old school" way of thinking. But that's just the way things are.
     
  3. Mark Frank

    Mark Frank Stunt Coordinator

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    Doesn't HBO already broadcast some of their own content in widescreen (i.e. The Sopranos)? I know they did for awhile at least. One of the HBO channels would be in widescreen and the other in pan & scan.

    Pretty hypocritical IMO.
     
  4. SteveK

    SteveK Supporting Actor

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    Mark- Since I don't subscribe to HBO, I don't know, but I believe they do film and air some of their own programming in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. So it does seem strange that they show all non-HBO material in a fullframe version only.

    With the obvious popularity of DVD, and the increasing number of commercials, music videos and even television programs now filmed in widescreen, it wouldn't seem that showing a movie properly would be such a radical idea any longer. Even the ads for HBO are frequently in widescreen. But not movies. Bizarre.

    Again, I don't expect any response (and certainly no programming change) from my letter, but it can't hurt to let them know that not everybody wants films modified to fit their screen.

    Steve K.
     
  5. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I do not suscribe to HBO, Showtime, etc. for the same reason that Steve outlined in his correspondence with the network -- I will not pay a premium fee to watch mutilated films. However, doesn't HBO offer several channels to viewers, such as "HBO Family", etc? If so, why couldn't they offer an "HBO Film Enthusiast" channel where all the presentations were OAR?
     
  6. SteveK

    SteveK Supporting Actor

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    Scott- I agree that would be an excellent idea. However, I think the problem would be that not all HBO channels are carried by cable or satellite providers. Or, as with DishNetwork, DD5.1 may only be available on the primary channel. Dish transmits 5.1 only on HBO East and West, but not on any of the other HBO channels (HBO2, Signature, etc). So although an "HBO Film Enthusiasts" channel would be an excellent idea, I am afraid that it would not be carried (or carried with full DD5.1) on most cable and satellite systems.

    But the idea itself is excellent.

    Steve K.
     
  7. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    There is one point missed by your message that you may not know about (and you wouldn't normally encounter this with your current television). HBO broadcasts all High Definition content at a 16:9 ratio regardless of the original widescreen ratio. So, if you are watching a 2.35:1 movie in HD, it will be pan&scanned or zoomed to 1.78:1. This is particularly bad because their competitor Showtime broadcasts the proper ratio on their HD channel.

    Overall, I think you have a very well written message and it includes a very workable compromise. I would love it if they offered a Widescreen Wednesday on their channels.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. SteveK

    SteveK Supporting Actor

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    Alex - I don't have an HDTV, but I have read (here on HTF) about HBO's cropping 2.35:1 movies to 1.78:1 movies even on their HDTV channel. Which only makes me even less hopeful that they will ever show movies the way they were meant to be seen, particularly on their "standard" channels. But I think one day per week of showing movies correctly is not too much to ask and presents a reasonable compromise. True, HBO would have to obtain both a P&S and a widescreen version of the movies they air, but I doubt that would be cost-prohibitive. I'm willing to bet they would gain many subscribers if it became known that all films would be shown at least once in its OAR. HBO is highly regarded for its original series and original movies; being equally highly regarded for respecting aspect ratios (even if only on a certain day of the week) would seemingly boost the number of subscribers. I wonder how many HTF members, for example, don't subscribe to HBO (or other premium channels) primarily due to lack of OAR presentations (other than select original programming).

    I think I'll heed Francois' recommendation above and send a "snail mail" letter to HBO in addition to the e-mail I sent (which of course has not been replied to by HBO).

    Steve K.
     
  9. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    I might write them as well when I finally cancel my HBO subscription. I get the HBO HD channel right now also. It's ok for 1.85:1 movies since TV overscan makes the slight cropping issue meaningless, but their HD quality is not often night-and-day better than a good DVD anyway. And I'm too used to watching DVDs whenever I want to be stuck to their schedule PLUS the long delay in movie debuts. When HD PVRs come out, that would help the former. Still...

    _Man_
     

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