Only just now got back to this thread. Respectfully, what you (in some of the first posts above) call letterbox can’t also be called 4:3. “Letterbox” is a dated marketing-bllsht term which is slowly falling into dis-use. Pros call it “Matted” now. But it IS indeed Widescreen. It’s a cheap-ass way of providing the theatrical aspect ratios of 1.66:1, 1.78:1, 1.85:1, 2.35:1, and some other specialty ratios such as Ben Hur was filmed in 2.76:1 from the rarely used 65mm MGM Camera 65. Letterbox sure as heck cannot be referred to as 4:3 as I read above. Or, again respectfully, am I misunderstanding what you were saying above?
Also 4:3 is just “marketing-math” that the suits dreamed up because they think that the public is too dumb to understand 1.33:1. Same with the term 16:9, they think we are too dumb to understand 1.85:1. “4:3” is the ratio of the old square TV your father owned.
Virtually all movies made before the advent of Cinemascope, Panavision, VistaVision and other widescreen camera formats came into use (around the '50’s) were filmed in an aspect ratio or 1.37:1 which was an industry standard called the “Academy Ratio”. When TV broadcasting started in the late '40’s, they used a slight variation and standardized on 1.33:1. Thats why Widescreen Cinama even started in the first place … to get couch potatoes back into the theatres by giving the public a BIGGER viewing experience for their money.
Matted widescreen goes way back before DVD’s: some VHS tape movies were released in “letterbox” format.
Anamorphic is most desirable for our modern home entertainment systems. By 2005 standards of expectation and for the money we pay, we SHOULD get an anamorphic DVD product. But it’s not dishonest to label a Matted DVD release as Widescreen just because the box didn’t say it was Anamorphic or “Letterbox”. It’s still the aspect ratio that the director chose for the theatre. All they are guilty of is mastering a cheap way out when they should have spent more money and given us a modern anamorphic instead of a matted widescreen. Bastards!
I hope I didn’t misinterpret the first postings on this thread but I wanted to get my 2 cents in, albeit late. Hense my first comment above. You can’t say a movie is 4:3 and letterbox to mean the same thing. And don’t even get me started on my hatred of the Pan&Scan process!