In general, widescreen is a term for a film/television show that is presented in a wider aspect ratio
than the standard 1.37:1 Academy ratio. That is to say, 16:9 presentation is
widescreen, but so is something like the theatrical
presentation of The Matrix
, which was shot in 2.35:1
ratio, further examples are the Star Wars
Trilogy, which you can see for yourself with the laserdiscs. There are other aspect ratios, such as for Saving Private Ryan
, which was shot on 1.85:1, which is close enough to 16:9 for us. The Criterion DVD
was presented in it's director-approved
aspect ratio of 1:66.1, which is "less wide" than 16:9.
Pseudo widescreen, which is another term for anamorphism, and belongs in another node.
If you think that letterbox sucks, then perhaps you should answer the question, "Wouldn't you rather see all of the film, rather than 2/3's of it?". Not all of us have wodges of cash to spend on a widescreen TV. :)