John Carpenter’s The Thing headed back to theaters for the film’s 40th anniversary… but it didn’t exactly go smoothly.
According to Collider, the re-release earned an impressive $500,000 at the box office, putting it firmly in the top 10 for the weekend. However, the anniversary screening was plagued by problems.
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Director Mick Garris headed out to see the film… and aired his frustration via Twitter.
“The film was shot in the 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, but was shown in 1.85:1, literally cutting out a third of the film,” he said. “The picture was soft-focus, low-resolution, and the digital image was out of registration, so all objects were rimmed in red on one side, and blue on the other. Also, all movement all the way through the movie stuttered, like trying to watch Netflix with a really bad wifi signal.”
I just got back from seeing John Carpenter’s masterpiece at the Fathom Events 40th anniversary screening at the Universal Citywalk AMC… and I will never EVER see a Fathom Event again, and I recommend that you avoid them like the plague. pic.twitter.com/FQbkp1OjV9
— Mick Garris & The Post Mortem Podcast (@MickGarrisPM) June 20, 2022
He wasn’t the only one outraged by the screenings, with John Carpenter himself calling the situation “distressing” and “horrible”.
“I’m happy that people want The Thing to be presented at a minimum — at a minimum, man — in the way we made it,” he told IndieWire. “I’m delighted by that.”
Of course, the severe backlash prompted Fathom events to respond to complaints:
“Your patronage and trust are of utmost importance to us. We know you come to theaters expecting the very best experience possible and we pride ourselves in being the provider of that experience. We are aware that the recent showing of ‘The Thing; wasn’t shown in its original aspect ratio and the disappointment it caused. Wednesday’s scheduled event will be shown in the proper aspect ratio, so you can see the film in theaters, as it was meant to be seen.”
Unfortunately… Wednesday’s screenings weren’t exactly problem-free, either.
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IGN’s own Tom Jorgensen attended the Wednesday screening, hoping to see The Thing in its original form. Unfortunately, the screening was completely canceled at the last minute.
“I just got out of the second scheduled screening, the one Fathom promised would go off without a hitch… and a half-hour after it was supposed to start, the manager walks in and tells us the screening is canceled,” he said.
It’s unclear whether Fathom events will take another run at the screening, but despite an impressive box office haul, The Thing has remained out of reach for many viewers.
Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.