Four months ago, a Tumblr emerged entitled What Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) Does and shows a variety of screen shots from different regions showing some absolutely outrageous cropping of films that the streaming service offers. Now if you’ve never seen the film, you might not notice, or wonder why there are people seated around a table missing half of their face.
Netflix cropping gone too far
Most film watchers have seen the following notice hundreds, if not thousands of times, “This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen.” But to visit the site that recently came to the notice of Gizmodo and other news outlets is to see cropping gone far to far.
If you’re old enough, it conjures up the horrible memories of Ted Turner deciding to “fix” movies by taking films that were filmed in black and white and adding color. Turner, with good reason, took a lot of heat for this decision and my eyes still burn when I remember the camera moving into Rick’s place in Casablanca. Quite simply, that film was no longer Casablanca but some megalomaniac’s ego-driven abomination on par with Dr. Frankenstein’s monster.
Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has no similar warning on its streaming content, and is suffering a fair bit of outrage. While it probably hasn’t lost them many customers owing to this recent outrage, it’s still not great press. Once Gizmoda got hold of the story they contacted Netflix for a comment.
Netflix denies accusations
Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has categorically denied the accusations, and the pictures on Tumblr are taken from a number of different countries, and responded by email when The Huffington Post asked them for a comment.
“We want to offer the best picture and provide the original aspect ratio of any title on Netflix,” Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) spokesman Joris Evers said in an email. “However, unfortunately our quality controls sometimes fail and we end up offering the wrong version of a title. When we discover this error, we replace that title as soon as possible.”
It’s not as bad as the hated “pan and scan”, a method of formatting films for television broadcasts that alters the 16:9 HD widescreen aspect ratio that the majority of films are shot in to the 4:3 ratio of older TVs, but its pretty bad.
“You don’t go around chopping off the tops of paintings so they fit in the frames you’ve got lying around,” Flavorwire film critic Jason Bailey wrote. “And you don’t go around slicing off the edges of movies so you don’t have to deal with letterboxing.”
But for most, they just won’t notice.