John Carpenter Responds to Fathom’s Thing Failed Screenings

Kurt Russell and John Carpenter

Kurt Russell and John Carpenter
Photograph: Emma McIntyre (Getty Images for TCM)

“I know I’m human. And if you were all those things, then you would attack me now, so some of you are still human. This thing doesn’t want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation. He’ll fight if he has to, but he’s vulnerable in the open. If he dominates us, he will have no more enemies, no one else to kill him. And then he is vanquished.”

As uttered by the character MacReady (Kurt Russell) in John Carpenter’s 1982 classic The thingthese words reveal a world where no one can be trusted, where all humanity is lost, and where a soulless copy can replace anyone. Very similar to Ronit’s a world gone wrong.

These words can also be used to describe Fathom Events 40th Anniversary Exhibits The thing, which, by all accounts, were an imitation of the real thing. Billed as featuring the film’s new 4k restoration, Fathom screenings reportedly didn’t. Instead, on Sunday night, the company, known for simulcasting sports, opera and RiffTraxNamereproduced poorly designed copies of The thing in the wrong proportion. If only the Thing had a warning like that.

Mick Garris, certified master of terror (actually, he created the distinction), known for, among other things, directing creatures 2 and writing hocus pocusconfirmed on Twitter that the screenings took place, as well as trying to do any research on US Outpost 31. Garris tweeted“Just got back from seeing John Carpenter’s masterpiece at the Fathom Events 40th Anniversary Exhibit at Universal Citywalk AMC…and I will NEVER see a Fathom Event again, and I recommend you avoid them like the plague.”

Garris explained that Fathom played the film at the wrong aspect ratio, 1.85:1, instead of the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, cropping a third of the image. And what he could see wasn’t much better. “The image was soft focus, low resolution, and the digital image was off-register, so all objects were bordered by red on one side and blue on the other,” he wrote. “Also, all the movement throughout the entire movie stuttered, like trying to watch Netflix with a really bad wifi signal.”

Another person not very happy about it: The thing director John Carpenter. Talking to IndieWireCarpenter called the situation “harrowing, it’s horrible.”

“My visual collaborator was Dean Cundey, he and I had worked together before, this was the fourth time. I trust his lighting, it’s just beautiful,” Carpenter said. “Widescreen is something I’ve been doing since the mid-70s. I love widescreen, always have. Composing a film in widescreen is complicated, but it’s beautiful.”

Producer Stuart Cohen echoed Carpenter’s sentiment about the importance of showing films in the right proportion, which makes sense considering that he, Carpenter, the cast and crew of The thing worked really hard to make one of the best movies of all time.

“It’s always been about the big screen, and the biggest screen imaginable, and we fight for those privileges. We struggled to get 70mm prints made for this purpose,” said Cohen. “It was particularly irritating, after the movie unceremoniously left theaters 40 years ago, that for its return to the big screen, they passed it at 1.85 – what John called a ‘bastard ratio’, because you really couldn’t compose. with him because the sides were too wide and there was too much headroom.” Tossing him into “bastard proportion” is the coup de grâce. What happened to humanity? Can we no longer trust anyone?

For his part, Fathom admitted that the performances were not good and that this was “an isolated incident” that only happened in 730 exhibitions.

“Your sponsorship and trust are of utmost importance to us. We know that you come to theaters expecting the best possible experience and we are proud to be the provider of that experience,” reads a statement from Fathom. “We are aware that the recent exhibition of The thing was not shown in its original proportions and the disappointment it caused. The event scheduled for Wednesday will be shown at the proper aspect ratio so you can see the movie in theaters as it was meant to be seen.”

Something good came out of the story, however. IndieWire reports that the happy people of Carpenter still want to see The thing in all its horrible glory – at the very least. “I’m glad that people want The thing to be presented at the very least – at the very least, man – the way we did it,” Carpenter said. “I am delighted with it.”

Anything we can do to delight John Carpenter should be done – even if it means showing movies properly.

[via IndieWire]

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