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John Carpenter calls controversial The Thing screenings “horrible”

A recent screening of The Thing for its 40th anniversary was shown in the wrong aspect ratio, which John Carpenter has called distressing and horrible

The Thing

Fathom Events, who put on special screenings that bring classic films back to cinemas, has been mired in controversy over the last few days due to showing one of the best horror movies – The Thing – in the wrong aspect ratio and in poor quality. The film’s director John Carpenter, who deeply cares about the widescreen experience, has now weighed in. Fathom Events has said that they will be showing the film again, in the correct aspect ratio.

Mick Garris, who has sixteen thousand Twitter followers, went on an understandable rant on June 19; “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 Wi-Fi signal.”

John Carpenter has now spoken to IndieWire about the screening, saying; “It’s distressing, it’s horrible.” He went on to explain why widescreen is so important to The Thing; “My visual collaborator was Dean Cundey, he and I had worked together before, this was the fourth time. I trust his lighting, it’s just gorgeous. Widescreen is something I’ve done since the mid-’70s. I love widescreen, I’ve always loved it. Composing a movie in widescreen is tricky, but it’s beautiful.”

Producer Stuart Cohen said; “It was always about the big screen, and the biggest screen imaginable and we fought for those privileges. We fought to get 70mm prints made for that purpose. It was particularly galling, after the film unceremoniously left theatres 40 years ago, that for its return to the big screen they played it in 1.85 — which John called a ‘bastard ratio,’ because you really couldn’t compose with it, because the sides were too wide and there was too much headroom.”

Fathom Events said; “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 theatres, as it was meant to be seen.”

“I’m happy that people want The Thing to be presented at a minimum — at a minimum, man — in the way we made it.” Carpenter added. “I’m delighted by that.” He also called the way that Fathom Events had chosen to resolve the issue; “a happy ending.”

If you’re a fan of The Thing, check out our guide to the best monster movies.