And I would disagree that 15 years ago consumers had to fight studio ignorance from cropping movies to 4x3. My memory might be faulty but I could walk into a store and easily buy a Widscreen VHS/DVD true some movies were also released in 4x3 format. But that might be down to my point above.
Europe was indeed much faster to adopt true aspect ratio releases on VHS, but even then it was a niche market compared to the decade of Pan&Scanned releases that came before. I adopted laserdisc specifically to get away from the P&S of VHS, and we're finally in a paradise where DVD/Blu releases that are in the wrong ratio are in the minority.
Trouble is, "fill my TV!" hasn't gone away, so old 4x3 material is getting butchered due to people either not wanting to *cough* waste
space on their TV, or in a misguided attempt to make something more "cinematic". (The idea that just chopping off information that was supposed to be there somehow makes something feel grander is asinine...in my opinion.)
At the end of the day, if someone wants an altered 16x9 version of something shot in 4x3, I don't mind at all...except if it stops the 4x3 version from being released.
Release both and I have no complaint. And if you're not going to release both, surely basic common sense says that you should release it the way it was made. (Hi, Star Wars Special Editions
, I'm looking at you, you bastards!)