Last month, we shared the news that Fathom Events would be bringing director John Carpenter’s 1982 classic The Thing back to theaters for two nights this month; Sunday, June 19th and Wednesday, June 22nd. Unfortunately, some fans walked out of Sunday’s screening deeply disappointed by the presentation. Genre filmmaker Mick Garris shared his disappointment on social media and his posts quickly went viral. Garris said,
I just got back from seeing John Carpenter’s masterpiece at the Fathom Events 40th anniversary screening at the Universal Citywalk AMC… and I will never EVER see a Fathom Event again, and I recommend that you avoid them like the plague. FIRST of all, the film was shot in the 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, but was shown in 1.85:1, literally cutting out a third of the film. The picture was soft-focus, low-resolution, and the digital image was out of registration, so all objects were rimmed in red on one side, and blue on the other. Also, all movement all the way through the movie stuttered, like trying to watch Netflix with a really bad wifi signal. Fathom Events and the theaters that run them should be ashamed of themselves, and the outrageously low-quality programs they run. This could have been an amazing time revisiting one of the classics on the big screen and share it with an enthusiastic audience. The power of Carpenter’s genius movie carried us through, but I remain disgusted by this ripoff.”
On Twitter, movie theater manager Kolpitz Explained that Fathom has two ways of sending movies out to theatres: DCP files, which is how new releases are shown at the digital age and are delivered in 2K or 4K, and Dish Network DVRs, which are shown in 1080i and are cropped to 1.78 :1. “DVR content is also always in 1.78:1, since that’s how a Dish Network box broadcasts its content.” So this is why The Thing was chopped up and low res for its Sunday screening; it was a Dish Network DVR.
Thankfully, Garris’s complaints got so much attention that Fathom is aiming to improve the experience for viewers who attend the Wednesday night screening. Kolpitz has been informed that “Fathom will be sending out a DCP hard drive for Wednesday’s 7:00 PM screening of The Thing. So, expect the correct aspect ratio at the very least. Probably 4K, too.”
Variety confirmed that the Wednesday screening of The Thing will be in the correct aspect ratio. Fathom Events also provided the following statement:
Your patronage and trust are of utmost importance to us. We know you come to theaters expecting the very best experience possible and we pride ourselves in being the provider of that experience. We are aware that the recent showing of The Thing wasn’t shown in its original aspect ratio and the disappointment it caused. Wednesday’s scheduled event will be shown in the proper aspect ratio, so you can see the film in theaters, as it was meant to be seen.”
So at least they’re doing something to make things right, even though the fans who saw The Thing on Sunday already gave their money to see a subpar presentation.
Did you see The Thing on Sunday? If so, let us know what you thought of the screening by leaving a comment below.