Class action lawsuit against MGM DVDs

I panicked a bit when I heard that MGM was being sued for screwing up their widescreen DVDs – after all I have like 50 DVDs made by MGM.

But it appears that this is a frivolous lawsuit.

The movies were shot “open matte” in 4:3 aspect ratio, then the top and bottom of the frame was trimmed to produce the theatrical widescreen version of the film. So what you get on the DVD is exactly as it was shown in the theater, and with the framing that the director intended.

When it came time to produce a TV / full-frame version of the film, they simply went back to the original open matte 4:3 aspect ratio source and did not crop it. So in the full-frame version you are actually seeing more, but you’re not getting the framing that the director intended.

MGM claimed that if you watched the full-frame version, parts of the picture would be missing. There is no point in “exchanging” your DVDs because what you have is already the correct version.

For a funny example of why open matte can be a bad thing, watch “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” on TV… in the scene where Pee-Wee is locking up his bike with an endless supply of chain, the gag is ruined because you can see more of the bottom frame: you can see that the bike’s saddle bag has a hole where the “endless” chain is being pulled from below. In the cropped widescreen version, the hole is not visible.

This Slashdot thread has more info:

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