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Alright. The first time I saw the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), it was... believe it or not... 4:3. I even obtained a copy of this. Later, I discovered that it was supposedly released in 2.35:1. Why supposedly? Read on.

I've searched for and viewed different widescreen releases of the film, and they all appear to be the same. This might seem obvious, but I have something to show you.

enter image description here

I made that from two different versions I obtained. In every one of the widescreen releases, at that point in the movie (17:38... although it is throughout the movie really) you can see where Arthur's feet are cut off at the bottom of the frame. Yet, in the 4:3 release, you can clearly see the rest of his feet, as well as the grate on the floor that is between the camera and the actors. I overlaid the two images so you could clearly see that in the widescreen release, there is footage above and below that is cut off... while in the 4:3 release, the footage was cut off on the sides, instead of at the top and bottom.

It isn't a fluke of that one scene. enter image description here

And here's another... enter image description here

I just picked all these times (34:00 and 1:06:12 respectively on the last two) at random.

Does anyone know of a widescreen release that includes everything? Was there one even released? Was there a reason why the widescreen version, which naturally should have contained more screen real estate, was actually cropped?

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I've encountered fake-widescreen movies, and feel your frustration. The Criterion Collection DVD of Time Bandits was fake wide. The opening titles proclaimed the movie to be TIME ANDIT (the words were stacked and the the B & S were cut off). Also Universal's first widescreen VHS release of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was fake. Sometimes, as in the case of Kubrick, he'd film full-frame with an eye to enforce the aspect ratio later, even changing his mind after the theatrical and home releases deciding he preferred the full-frame. –  Meat Trademark May 10 at 12:02
    
I think the original screens from Ursa Minor Beta have changing sizes during the presentations of films and are not restricted to square screens. Perhaps the films are optimized for such screens ;) –  knut May 10 at 12:33
    
If you like... I could attempt to dub the 4:3 version I have over one of the widescreen versions, so you can see that it is the entire movie, not just select scenes. On reading this again, I see how I came across as saying that it was only certain scenes. What makes me wonder though, is that IMDB says the movie was originally released in 2.35:1... but if you extrapolate from what can be seen in the 4:3 release, it seems like the movie would have originally been shot in 16:9 –  Bon Gart May 11 at 1:24
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It may have been shot with an eye for 4:3 TV release (which was still standard TV screen & VHS ratio) and 2.35:1 theatrical & widescreen VHS and DVD release. It may be as simple as that. The director trying to make sure that both look good, while preferring the cinemascope widescreen look. Many movie cameras have a grid superimposed on the monitor showing the different aspect ratios although unlike this example, they usually show a little above and below frame to gauge boom-mics and cords, etc. –  Meat Trademark May 11 at 11:13
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

This looks like it was originally filmed in 16:9. There was most definitely a Full Frame version (4:3 is sometimes written as 1.33) and a Widescreen version (2.35:1). According to this review about half-way down the page, the Widescreen version matched the theatrical presentation.

If you google "Hitchhiker's guide 16:9" you will find a few torrents and online videos that have that title. Also, this version on Amazon claims to be both 16:9 and 2.35:1, so it may contain both versions. Lastly, this review of the blue-ray states it is "2.35:1 with letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the 16:9 frame".

I'd suggest checking out some of the results of the Google search mentioned above to see if it actually exists in full 16:9.

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I'm digging now. Dunno why I didn't just look for it first. Funnily enough, if I search for "Hitchhiker's guide 16:9" with the quotes, only this question comes up :) –  Bon Gart May 15 at 5:00
    
When I run this search, I get about 6 hits on the front page alone that lead to youtube/yuotube wannabe sites: google.com/… –  Johnny Bones May 15 at 13:10
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