Every now and then I’ll ask a critic or entertainment journalist about a film they’ve just seen that I haven’t gotten around to, and sometimes I’ll ask “what aspect ratio was it in? Academy 1.85 or 2.39 Scope?” And with the exception of hardcore guys like Todd McCarthy, Kent Jones, Scott Foundas or Justin Chang 85% of the time the answer will be “uhhm, I didn’t notice.” And these are professionals — people who really should know their aspect ratios and should, you know, have a little respect for what the d.p. intended. One presumes that the percentage of average ticket buyers who notice a given a.r. is even lower. It follows that even fewer Average Joes are going to notice that The Hateful Eight‘s Ultra Panavsion 70 a.r. of 2.76:1, as the difference between 2.39 and 2.76 is not exactly glaring if you’re just slumping in your seat with your legs spread-eagled with the large popcorn and the 32-ounce drink. Probably less than 5%. People don’t care much about image aesthetics as a rule. I honestly believe they don’t pay attention to this stuff any more than cows in a field will notice the difference between bright sunlight at midday and how it turns soft and golden just before dusk.
Robert Richardson (shades, white beard) and Gregor Tavenner during filming of The Hateful Eight.