John Carpenter furious as ‘The Thing’ 40th anniversary savages film

The Thing
Image via Universal Pictures

While The Thing is celebrating its 40th anniversary, it hasn’t all been sunshine and roses, as we learned after John Carpenter vented about a major change to the film for its re-release.

Released initially to almost no positive reviews, living off its status as a cult classic, The Thing is now considerable a seminal 80s film, with its open-ended climax still one of the most hotly contested and theorized endings in cinema.

While the ending thankfully hasn’t been altered, just about every other scene has been. The film’s aspect ratio was changed for the anniversary, which director Carpenter described as “horrible” in an interview with IndieWire.

It’s distressing, 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 gorgeous. Widescreen is something I’ve done since the mid-’70s. I love widescreen, I’ve always loved it. Composing a movie in widescreen is tricky, but it’s beautiful.”

Originally shot in a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, the latest version submitted to cinemas had been altered to 1.85:1. Such a change may not sound too worrisome to a layman, but it meant a third of every shot was cut off. Aspect ratios being changed for different types of release is common.

Most would be aware of the aspect ratio difference between something shot for IMAX and something shot for television. The Thing’s anniversary edition has also been criticized for image quality, with complaints resulting in distributor Fathom Events releasing a fixed version.

Carpenter described it as a “happy ending”, unlike the end of his beloved film. The director spoke about his interest in a sequel to The Thing back in Feb. 2022.