Why the Snyder Cut is 4:3 aspect ratio

Chris Burns - Mar 18, 2021, 4:01pm CDT
Why the Snyder Cut is 4:3 aspect ratio

Today we’re going to discuss why the Snyder Cut of Justice League is presented in 4:3 aspect ratio. It’s because that’s the aspect ratio in which the movie was originally filmed. And because when the Zach Snyder made a deal to work on and see a release of his “Snyder Cut” of the Justice League movie, part of that deal included this format, the format in which the movie was originally filmed… almost.

When a movie is recorded, part of the process – or at least part of the process as movies have been filmed in the past – is recording with the knowledge that the final product could be seen cropped. This process was never ideal, for anyone. The actual original filming process is still being debated.

According to a British Cinematographer interview with cinematographer Fabian Wagner BSC ASC, Justice League “was shot 4-perf, framed in 1.85:1 aspect ratio, as Snyder wanted to get away from the Anamorphic look of the previous films.” So when we saw the theatrical cut of the movie, we saw a slightly smaller view than what was originally captured – in order to fit most movie screens.

Part of the original reason the movie was framed in the slightly more square aspect ratio was because it was set to appear in IMAX theaters. Those theaters use a far more boxy screen. Once the movie was done with IMAX, it was back to the crop that most people saw – the crop that was in the theater.

In planning for the movie, Wagner and Snyder discussed how the epic nature of the film could possibly fit in a more square format instead of the anamorphic aspect ratio. As noted by Wagner, “I was a little concerned as to how we would get half a dozen superheroes on screen in the same frame, but having scrutinized the storyboarded scenes with Zack, 1.85:1 was a perfect fit with the way the characters are visualized.”

So while the theater version we saw before was fine, and included the vast majority of what’s important to the film’s story and action, this new cut shows the entirety of the original framing of each scene.

Above you’ll see a tiny example of what it really means to film with the intention of release in IMAX vs a more standard (widescreen) format. Now, if only every group that filmed entirely in IMAX could release their movies in a box, too!

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