Why Is Netflix Secretly Cropping Films?

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While most the news surrounding Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) these days is great — its original series House of Cards was just nominated for nine Emmys while traditional cable companies continue to fear Netflix’s rise — nobody’s perfect. Some movie fans are voicing their frustrations regarding Netflix’s “hidden” cropping of films, reigniting an age-old debate dating back to the VHS era when distributors would crop films to fit onto TV screens.

In an article making the rounds on the Internet, Gizmodo displays just how much Netflix is cropping some movies on its streaming service and you might be surprised by just how much is going on that you may not know about. A Tumblr page entitled What Netflix Does is dedicated to pointing out the extent of Netflix’s cropping of films.

The problem revolves around the complicated issue of aspect ratios. These days, modern TV’s use a rectangular aspect ratio of 16:9 — back in the old days, it was 4:3. While 16:9 is much closer to common film aspect ratios, and indeed some films actually do shoot with this ratio natively, many films still use an aspect ratio far wider than 16:9 allows. The most widely used ratio for films is 2.39:1, far wider than what is allowed by a ratio of 16:9.