I have yet to get the Blu-ray release of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (it comes out on April 17th, available for preorder for 51% off on Amazon) but it appears that director Brad Bird decided to not include the expanded IMAX footage in the home video transfer.

For those of you who didn’t know, the IMAX release of this film (and other films like the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises) included footage shot with on 70 mm IMAX film, 15 perforations per frame. The quality of those sequences, almost a half hour of the total film, is amazingly vivid.And because they were shot on IMAX cameras, those segments filled up the whole IMAX screen a 1.44:1 aspect ratio (or just a little wider than the old standard definition/full frame square).

The blu-ray releases of The Dark Knight, Tron: Legacy and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen have featured expanded aspect ratios in the IMAX sequences — which means that the aspect ratio changes from the widescreen 2:35:1 to fit your entire 16:9 television during the IMAX shot sequences. I’ve always enjoyed that we get to see a little bit more of these sequences. Bird decided against this with the home video release of MI4, sticking with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio for the entire film.

Of course, even the 16:9 aspect ratio that The Dark Knight’s blu-ray expands to cuts off a good chunk of the original IMAX presentation. If the IMAX print were to be released on Blu-ray in their original aspect ratio, there would be sizable vertical black bars on the side of your television screen during these segments. While I would almost never endorse distributing a film in a cropped aspect ratio, I see why a transition to this could be oft-putting to the home movie watching experience. I’ve really loved how the films mentioned above expanded to 16:9 (or 1.78:1) to include a large portion of the original IMAX frame.

You can read Brad Bird’s twitter conversation about the issue with a fan at this link.

“The effect is NOT like seeing it in an IMAX theater, which forces you to sit forward, So I chose 2.40:1,” Bird explained. “I’m not opposed to a part IMAX Blu ray, it’s just not the way I chose to have it seen @ home.”

I guess when it comes down to it, at least the decision to completely crop the IMAX footage was left to the filmmaker, and wasn’t the choice of the studio. I respect the filmmaker’s opinion when it comes to home video presentation, but wish it was an option to see it full screen. Part of the reason why I loved the film when I saw it in theaters was the sense of danger that the full IMAX frame brought to some of the action sequences.

Bird teases that if enough fans want it, the studio might release it. While I’m doubtful that will happen any time soon, you never know — they could always release a new edition of the movie on blu-ray timed with the inevitable theatrical release of a fifth film — and the IMAX expansion could be part of the additional special features. Who knows?

And with all my geek complaining about the issue (sorry, sometimes I can be an aspect ratio snob), it isn’t going to stop me from buying the movie (even in its circumcised form) when its released on Blu-ray next month.

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