How do movies adjust for different screen sizes in post production?

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I’m assuming big movies are usually meant to be seen in a movie theater, how do they adjust from going to the big screen to a phone, or laptop screen?

In: Technology

If the conversion is done properly, most of the time they don’t do anything to the size of the picture.

If you watch a properly converted movie on a consumer device, the width of the movie will simply be scaled to the width of the screen, leaving black bars on the top and bottom. For older movies shot in a square format, the height of the movie will be scaled to the height of the screen, leaving black bars on the left and right. A few movies where the black bars are *very* noticeable is 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ben Hur.

However, before the early 2000’s (when widescreen television wasn’t quite prevalent yet) if a movie were to air on television, it would have to be cropped to a square format because scaling a widescreen movie to the width of a square would leave too much black space on the top and bottom. In those days, the far ends of the picture were simply cut off. This created some problems, but for the most part anything important in the movie was taking place in the center of the screen so it wasn’t too bad.