One of the defining features of the HDTV format is an aspect ratio of 16:9 (expressed alternatively as 1.78:1). And yet, when I watch movies from Blu-Ray discs, I’m still seeing letterboxing. In other words, the movies were made in an even higher aspect ratio than HDTV. Supposedly the two most common aspect ratios for cinema are 1.85:1 and 2.39:1.
So why did they make the HDTV format “boxier” than the most common aspect ratios used in cinema? Instead of letterboxing cinematic movies to present them on boxy HDTV screens, why didn’t they define the HDTV format match one of those aspect ratios (1.85 or 2.39 to 1), and then have all HDTV television programming produced to match that aspect ratio?