Well, TV's tended to be smaller back in the day, too. Letterboxed versions on a small diagonal TV, of movies intended for the big screen, could approach being unwatchable, because everything was so damn small.
This for sure.
I remember when LOTR:Fellowship first came out on DVD, I still had my 25" diagonal tube tv, and that movie was so "letterboxed", than unless you sat 3 feet from the screen, you almost couldn't see any details. Sometimes you couldn't even discern actor's faces, unless it was a relative close-up. It was almost unwatchable. It was in those days, that I usually tried to buy the full-screen version of a movie, if it was available.