Reports from Disney’s D23 fan expo would have it that Sam Raimi is shooting some of his Wizard of Oz prequel, Oz the Great and Powerful, in black and white and something like 4:3 aspect ratio. Or perhaps more precisely, 1.37:1 and sepia, in step with the MGM classic.
There’s very few films that change between black and white and colour, and fewer still that shift aspect ratio.
For various reasons, a horizontal shift in the edges of the frame can tend to be less noticeable than a vertical change, at least for an audience in a cinema, or watching at home on a fair-sized 16:9 TV. The rate of change can be very important too, not to mention what is occuring on screen at the time of the change. It’s entirely possible to alter the shape of the screen in this way without the audience noticing the transformation as it happens.
I’d be interested to see if Raimi tries to hide the shift, perhaps using the colour as part of the mask, or as I believe is more likely, if he tries to push it on us a little.
Footage from the film (UPDATE: behind the scenes footage showing sets and concept art; and some still images from the film) was shown but details of what it contained are very thin on the ground indeed. If you were there and can tell me what you saw, I’d love to know more.
We can look forward to Oz the Great and Powerful in 2013. I’ve been waiting to hear more about the film, and am a little disappointed that the first info out of the bag is a mere gimmick. Nonetheless, I’m sure there’s a lot more to the picture than this.