It's getting to where you can't go to a movie theater without built-in distractions, but you can't stay at home with Netflix, either, and know you're experiencing films properly. According to The Verge, the streaming service is considering making special cuts for phones and tablets in order for viewers to see a larger picture. Ironic, isn't it?
The joke about watching Lawrence of Arabia on a phone works especially well when you see just how little of a smartphone's screen is filled with the classic epic, which was shot in Super Panavision 70 for an aspect ratio of 2.20:1. If Netflix goes through with the idea, the picture would fill the whole screen of your mobile device.
Only the company's own originals, both movies and TV series, would get these special pan and scan versions, but it'd be interesting to see how many filmmakers signing deals with Netflix would still do so if they know their work will be seen in such a way. Would Martin Scorsese be okay with his upcoming Netflix release The Irishman being cropped for iPhone viewing?
Well, the truth is that he and almost everyone else allowed their movies to be panned and scanned for television and VHS versions. For many years, with our square-ish TV sets and the home video market what it was, we all mostly watched movies in awful cropped formats. But widescreen TVs and the rise of DVDs fixed our vieweing habits.
One thing that is unclear is whether or not the mobile cuts will be geared towards those who watch videos on their devices vertically -- since that's how most users shoot and view their own mobile videos, that's often the standard for their comfort. That would be a lot worse than the framing that went into "full screen" VHS cuts.
Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt said of the consideration that it's mainly for the sake of subscribers outside the U.S. Here, we still mostly watch movies on TVs, but in other countries, particularly India, the majority of streaming is done on mobile devices. If this does happen, hopefully we're at least given an option with every title.