IMAX Says No New Audio Mix on THE DARK KNIGHT RISES IMAX Prologue

     January 2, 2012

Tom Hardy Bane THE DARK KNIGHT RISES image slice

Steve here. The other day we posted a story concerning the audio mix on the IMAX prologue of The Dark Knight Rises.  After speaking with Warner Bros. and IMAX, it appears our story was wrong and I’ve taken down the article as a result of my conversations.  While I could have just deleted the article, I feel it’s important to own up to your mistakes rather than just forget about them.  I’m sorry for any confusion.

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  • broski

    Nolan is being pretentious about this lol

    • broski

      come at me fanboys

      *puts on flame shield*

      • Angel of Death

        On the contrary. I agree with you. I understand the motivation behind not wanting to compromise your vision in favor of what people think audiences want. And I have the highest respect for Nolan about that. But in a way, it is a pretentious move nevertheless.

        I mean when push comes to shove, I want to be comfortable and enjoy the movie and understand what’s going on clearly. This means I need to know what the main characters are saying without difficulty. And “The audience needs to catch up” is not an acceptable response from any filmmaker. Movies are meant to be enjoyed by everyone, and since hearing is subjective, you’re alienating a bunch of people who won’t be able to understand what characters are saying. I mean Nolan couldn’t possibly have filmed this thinking “I want Bane to be hard to understand because the words I’ve written for the character are unimportant”. So I don’t understand why he would be incredibly stubborn in making edits, unless it’s simply out of pure arrogance. I initially thought it more or less sounded like he was unwilling to accept responsibility over the fact that the audio results from initial viewings of the prologue were less than stellar.

        But now at the very least I’m happy about this development and hope the new soundtrack pays off. Good of him to at least meet us halfway on this.

      • Angmal

        I love how Adam was falling over himself to praise and support Nolan by framing a technical misjudgement as ‘his vision’ and ‘wanting the audience to participate’. Couldn’t stop laughing. Unless it is a plot point that no one in the film can understand or hear what the character is saying, that is in no way audience participation, it’s a lack of skill and a surplus of arrogance. No one was asking him to change Bane’s dialogue or explain some complex mysterious ambiguities that people were too dumb to comprehend; they wanted him to fix a cloth-eared sound mix that left dialogue muffled while showcasing bombastic sound effects.

  • JS

    This is great news.

    I caught the IMAX intro of DKR last week in front of MI:4; and though I love Bane’s characterization (and his vocal presence) – I have to admit that I couldn’t catch everything he was saying amidst the background noise.

    It is very nice to hear that things have been cleared up without being changed!

  • Jamie

    Clean out your ears people and lower intake on the aspartame. …making Bane’s voice perfectly clear would ruin his character entirely. Kids stay home, this isn’t a disney movie, so your opinion doesn’t count.

    “When Gotham is ashes. You have my permission to die.”

  • Liam_H

    I understand the prologue needing work but the Bane’s voice in the trailer is perfectly fine. At least for me.

  • Maziar lahooti

    This is the annoying thing about non film makers thinking they know how to ‘fix’ film maker problems like this.

    Nolan understands that just because the audience have slight issue understanding Bane’s dialogue in a trailer and a six minute teaser, you still get the essence of what he’s saying, you still get what’s happening, and within about ten minutes your ears actually adjust. Hence something that seems impossible to understand in a little short, is fine in a feature.

    It’s like how about ten minutes into watching a movie with subtitles, your brain reads the subtitles without distracting your eyes from the image. Whereas at first it feels distracting cause you keep having to consciously read the subtitles.

    • Jimmer

      Man you are so smart.

    • Steve Rudzinski

      I’m a filmmaker and felt this was a problem. The audience should understand what characters are saying, not “get the essence.”

      • Maziar lahooti

        Steve. The audience should get precisely what the film maker wants them to get.

        And as per the changes made to the IMAX print, the problem had nothing to do with Bane’s actual voice or delivery, it had to do with it’s immersion in the rest of the sound design. So when Nolan says he wasn’t gonna change Bane’s voice, he wasn’t being a prima donna. He was just politely saying “You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about”

      • joel

        Weird, because I can understand the dialogue from every other character in the preview and the trailer except for Bane, so either the sound mix is somehow coincidentally masking only his voice…or his voice/vocal effects are really hard to understand. Period.

        I don’t really give a care how they fix it. I’d be fine with subtitles, or overdubbing, or a new mix, but they need to fix it. If Nolan’s intent is a primary character whom I can’t understand for 40-50% of his dialogue, fine, but I think he’s going to have a bit of a problem selling that artistic choice to a mass audience.

    • Liam_H

      Its not that we can’t understand what Bane is saying its that we can’t hear him, that’s a huge problem. Your theory with subtitles would make sense if he just had a really indecipherable accent that we needed to get use to but that’s not the case.

    • broski

      Well fuck your “essense” bullshit. As an audience member I need to understand exactly what the characters are saying.

  • Sad_Face_Grace

    I saw the extended TDKR trailer in IMAX, and visually it was stunning. However, as I exited the theater, everyone was talking about how they could not understand what was being said on the screen during the plane scene. Between the plane noise and the rumbling, vibrating seats, I couldn’t understand the dialogue. The husband and I had already said it wouldn’t be worth seeing in IMAX if this wasn’t changed. It’s frustrating that this is widely reported, yet Nolan doesn’t think it’s worth attention. I’m glad that WB has addressed the issue, but I’ll wait for word of mouth at the time of the release before paying extra to see it in IMAX.

    • django3000

      Your worries have been addressed, according to this article. What Nolan has not changed, apparently, is the raw audio of Bane’s voice, which – in his eyes – is appropriately sounding like a man on a life sustaining respirator (see that thing? Yeah. That’s what it’s doing)

      So – he’s addressed the ACTUAL problem: (like you said) the background plane noise, etc. Which is what most people are complaining about, yet some are claiming is his voice they can’t understand.

      Big difference. See? (if you don’t then God as my witness, He will not help you)

  • Jimmer

    Your source is a random guy, who talked to a friend, who works a projector? Great excuse just to put out an exclusive story

    • Liam_H

      Many major stories are first broken by sources. That’s why you hear actors getting officially announced for a part a week later when they’ve signed.

      • Hertz

        What were you saying again? That we should always trust sources?

  • Steve Rudzinski

    I never had a problem understanding him, just think the voice sounds silly.

  • Maziar lahooti

    Steve. The audience should get exactly what the film maker wants them to get. Very often that is essence.

    And considering the changes to the IMAX print, Nolan was right in that the problem was not Bane’s voice, or delivery, it was the immersion of his voice in the sound design which was the problem (For that particular short which would have been a sound design nightmare considering the setting)

    Bane’s voice is fine. Ears adjust. When the final film is released, and the voice is the same, you’ll see :)

    • The Chad

      “The audience should get exactly what the film maker wants them to get.”

      You keep saying that, but what you fail to understand is that a movie is ultimately a product and the audience is the buyer. I can put rabbit turds in my brownies all I want, and that may be exactly the way I intended them, but that doesn’t mean anyone’s gonna buy them. Sure, there’s a give and take to art, but ultimately if you alienate your target audience, you aren’t gonna make much money.

  • C138

    This is good news. I never had a problem with the accent that Tom Hardy uses for his character, it was just difficult to understand because of the noise due to the situation the prologue is set in. All that was needed was to tone down some of the background noise to help make what is being said clearer. It sounds like Nolan has done just that, so I look forward to seeing it again.

  • Strong Enough

    The problem is people complain about EVERYTHING. 99 percent of people are annoying brats who want everything their way. The whole internet age has given these fanboys nerd geeks who stay all day on IMDB boards and comicbookmovie sites arguing over DC vs Marvel wondering why they still work at Wal Mart. I saw the goddamn bootleg version of the prologue and had no problems with it. The average moviegoer is stupid and probably never has seen a foreign film let alone read subtitles for an hour and 45 mins on a screen. Put the damn thing out as is. Thank god Nolan isn’t a hack and is doing this right not letting it be in 3D and not letting these people get to him.

    • WEV

      Bang on right there! Too much complaining and bullshit whining going on these days. But what you going to do, haters gona hate

  • Chris

    Nolan has had this problem in all his movies. He just seems to totally be against ADR. All the characters in his movies mumble, or have very thick accents. Yeah, I’m looking at you Michael Caine!

    It’s one thing to create immersion, it’s another to just be cumbersome. I’m sure the screenwriters put a fair amount of effort into creating compelling dialogue. It’s just a shame you cant understand it half the time.

    It’s not just this trailer either. All his movies have this issue.

    Same with the fight scenes… Enough with the fast cuts. I’d like to actually see what looks like it might be a really good fight. Not just a tenth of a second of what might have been a punch… or a poke in the eye.

    • tina

      The talking in his past movies have never been a problem but many americans find anyone who speaks with a non american accent to be an issue. Just learn to listen a little more.

    • Zox

      If you have trouble understanding Michael Caine, then there is a huge problem with you. he’s the only person in the movie that doesn’t mumble. I’m talking to you Christian Bale.

  • Matt

    Nolan never said he wasn’t going to fix the Bane problem, in favt the total opposite, he said he was addressing the problem people were having, but refused to remix the whole thing at WB request. He’s done precisely what he said he would, find a solution without going through the process of remixing all of Bane’s dialogue from scratch.

  • Xander Markham

    I saw M:I at the IMAX last night (amazing experience – fingers crossed that more movies go that way, the massive screen is a serious improvement over the standard cinematic experience, unlike loathsome 3D) and had no problem understanding the vast majority of what Bane was saying until the background noise ramped up. In other words, it sounds as though Nolan has made the correct choice in keeping the voice the same, but toning down the ambient sound. He’s looking like a very fearsome villain and the skewed, slightly alien voice plays a part in that effect.

  • allenjones

    Yeah, I think he’s done such amazing things, he’s getting a little arrogant (sp). It’s not dumbing anything down by allowing people to understand the dialog.

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  • Lulzatron

    I agree with Nolan on this. Ears can adjust to Bane’s voice but that plane scene was too damn loud. I recall Bane even lowering his volume at one point and if anyone could tell me what was said at that point, I would be amazed.

  • wildcatz

    Thank you almighty Mr. Nolan. Leave the mumblecore for the indies. Now, would it be too late to clean up Bale’s voice in TDK? Perhaps when you re-issue it in the boxset you can have a non-director’s version.

  • LEM

    I don’t get why there is such a problem! people just want to hear the dialogue and enjoy the final installment of Nolans’ Batman story. No one was asking him to change anything in the movie but just fix the audio mix to make it clear. I think we all accepted Bale doing a horrible Clint Eastwood impression while under the mask even though he can find a gadget for everything else. I would think a voice modulation device integrated into the mask would make sense but we all mocked the voice and seemed to accept it but to have both main characters in the film make the audience strain to understand is just asinine.

    • Sly

      I don’t see the problem either. Nolan said himself he was gonna tweek the audio anyway. I think there were some fanboys who felt it was somehow disloyal to Nolan to question the problems with the audio. Having seen the prolouge , the background noise is overbearing. Aside from that, Bane’s actually voice is pretty cool imo

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  • Dodge

    A “source,” you say. Sure. Would this be the same source who passed along the bogus rumor about “Black Sands” being renamed “Black Sunday?”

    Thanks. But I’ll wait for the studio to confirm.

  • Matt

    suppose it was only a matter of time before nolan would cave under the pressure from fanboys.

  • ipolos

    I’m just glad this is getting resolved so people can stop mulling over Bane’s voice, it’s become this running joke and it’s shifting attention away from the actual movie release.
    This movie cannot get here fast enough :(

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  • Quentin

    There was nothing wrong with Bane’s voice to begin with.

  • Oliver

    I haven’t seen the prologue, but from what I can gather this draws parallels with the scene in The Social Network, where Einsenberg and Timberlake are in that club, and you can barely hear them over the music. I find that scene really immersive as a result. If the characters can barely hear each other – the audience should barely be able to hear either. Its realism! After all, Bane’s vocal has not been changed, only the volume of the things around him – sounds like a step away from the realism that all the fanboys are supposed love about Nolans Batman

    • joel

      I don’t find a single dialogue scene in TSN hard to understand at all. Far from it. That scene is especially well-mixed. You get the point of setting *and* the dialogue. Yes, they’re straining to hear each other, but that’s acting. That scene was likely shot in a quiet room, music mixed in later.

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    Whether they fix BANES voice or not, the suck has already set in on this movie and so much that BANE is lampooned all over Youtube for his goofy voice.. The damage is done and the jigs up: The AVENGERS kills TDKR next summer and just about everything else as well.. TDKR will be a movie tat divides the Batman fanbase down the middle like a parting of the red sea.. 1 side will say they love it out of being GENUINE, while the other side will be afraid to say the movie sucked for fear of being labeled a TROLL out of internet peer pressure and going against the Almighty Lord and Savior, Christopher Nolan and his movie and as a result, they’ll say the movie was good, but only because they felt compelled to, felt they were SUPPOSED to..

    • ipolos

      If people don’t like the movie I doubt they will hide that fact out of fear of prosecution, if there’s a crowd out there that is extremely vocal and critical about movies (especially comic book adaptations), it’s the internet crowd…
      Nolan is allowed to screw up every once in a while, I just hope it doesn’t happen with this movie, after Spider-Man 3, I’m not sure my heart can take it…

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  • Alex Dorn

    People gotta remember that when you’re cutting a movie and a movie’s sound, you’re listening to it over and over for weeks and months through a speaker that’s 3 feet from your face. It’s natural that the reproduction and mix may be different in different environments and on different systems, and the first round was probably rushed out, listened to once in the test IMAX theater by people who had heard it a thousand times, and knew what bane was saying by heart…
    This is a boring tech fix, not a “compromise”

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  • Darth Connery

    ZOMG I can’t hear the dialogue! The first half of the Bane Dialogue there is a door open on a plane 10,000 feet in the air. How freaking clear do you think the sound would be in that instance?!?!?!? The second half of the dialogue half of the plane is missing. Do you think it should sound like people talking in a library? I do remember one of his lines was overtaken by the score, so I agree, that line should be reworked. The rest is fine.

    True Grit comes to mind, I’m sure everybody understood every word Rooster Cogburn spoke…

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  • JohnA

    It might be more realistic for Bane to be drowned out within the context of the movie. But than again, hearing a symphony from nowhere start playing is hardly realistic. The fanboys who justify the lack of clarity in Bane’s dialog as being a part of mysterious nature seem far too similar to the ones who justify the incoherence of Batman when fighting (particularly in Begins). Is it such a crime to say that Nolan isn’t infallible?

    And what good is having well written dialog if it cannot be heard and understood by the audience at large? Nolan is a genius who has yet to make a truly bad feature. But he is also human, and humans have weaknesses. It’s almost as if there is some weird Internet cult with members responding to every legitimate criticism with “In Nolan We Trust.”

    I trust him, but is it wrong to imply that The Dark Knight Rises might have weaker elements?

    • Rob

      “But than again, hearing a symphony from nowhere start playing is hardly realistic.”
      Great point–and funny!

    • Rob

      And yes, I agree with you about everyone having artistic weaknesses, or at least every piece of art, even if it’s not necessarily a general weakness of an artist. TDK is one of my favorite movies, but there are little things that bug me about it. Batman Begins, too. Great movie, but annoying things here and there. That’s true with just about all great movies (especially when you re-watch them).

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  • Jimmer

    Steve, what great journalism. But who can blame you with how professional that letter looked

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  • Bernward Woodstein

    A possible giveaway that the letter is fake is that the letter says “we” have created a new “combined” DTAC track. Assuming the letter is from Warner Bros., why would they be creating a new track for Paramount’s Mission: Impossible movie? See what I mean? It makes it sound as if the sender of the letter is creating ONE new soundtrack file for TWO studios’ movie files. And that doesn’t seem like something that would happen. While it’s true I don’t know what I’m talking about, that does seem like a red flag to me.

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  • Mr.Rich316

    What the Hell?? The studio fixed the problem with the film they own?
    They didn’t want a big hassle with a diva director so they did it on the low down? Called this one 3 weeks ago when Nolan basically said fuck you to all the studio’s customers. Good Job whichever studio executive made the call to fix this .

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  • gimpsuit

    Nolan is a pretentious twat.
    The issue is Bane’s voice, not the background noise, that just exacibates the problem. But stick to your guns Nolan, it’ll make you 100million more from fanboy tards and ‘In Nolan we trust’ cultists who will see the movie 10 times just to work out WTF Bane is saying, then debate it for the next two years in online forums.

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  • SOB


    What we got was a freebie!

    They have six more months to work on this bad boy. They’ll have to if they want Bane to NOT sound like a Neanderthal. He’s supposed to be intimidating yet all I wanted to do was give him a bear hug, a nice hot cup of cocoa and an abacus to play with.

    As the great Mark Twain once said, “You never go full retard.”

    • Julie

      “What we got was a freebie!”

      Good point. This isn’t even the full finished movie yet and people are complaining. It’s not done yet and Nolan/WB didn’t need to release this prologue for people to see.

      I do agree that he should be heard and the sound is a bit muffled, but I think it’d be totally unrealistic if someone, ANYONE, was 100% clear in a loud, noisy, airplane let alone someone who’s mouth is covered by a mask.

      He’s said he’s going to tweak it and not re-work it entirely. I’m sure this will be a non-issue by the time July rolls around.

  • dybbs

    Saw it today. Didn’t understand a word.

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  • Rob

    Just watched a leaked version online, so I can’t speak for how it sounds in the theater, but I think the voice is perfect. I think Bane is going to be way cooler than I expected. I LOVE the voice and the attitude. He’s scary and even kind of funny. As for the intelligibility, I do actually like how when he speaks you have to think for a second about what he said, and then your brain figures it out and you think “that’s great!”
    I’m not a “Nolan is God and can do no wrong” kind of fan. I just think it works. I’m very excited to see the rest of the movie!

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  • Jake

    If you listen to it carefully, you’ll understand what he’s saying. Don’t know why everybody’s so up in arms about it.

    • diegonyfa

      because people are stupid jake, lol plain and simple. its ok come summer they will realize their own stupidity, and then repeat on their next anticipated film lol

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    @Jake: People are up in arms over it cause it sucks and needs to be said.. If Nolan’s Ego refuses to allow this to, at the very LEAST, get subtitles or a reworking of BANES voice, then count on this being a problem next summer and this hurting the movies box office and it will to.. As a filmmaker, you owe it to the audience for them to understand what’s being said in the movie they just shelled out $20 bucks to see.. It’s to the point now where I’m starting to believe Nolan made TDKR for HIMSELF and not the fans if he doesn’t give a shit.. Personally, I hope the movie flounders at the box office, if for anything, to bring the Cult of Nolan worshipping back down to earth, and realize that YES, this guy is not above making mistakes like any other director..

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  • Robert Worthington

    Nolan caved and it is fixed..end of story.

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  • David E. Lucas

    I’m really glad movies aren’t made the way they were when I played bass for Done On Bradstreet, but I think Christopher Nolan’s “Person Of Interest” television show is a better “Batman” than any that have been portrayed in movies.

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  • sedna

    It’s not the issue with the sound mix, or Bane, it’s that we haven’t heard anything like this before so our brain rejects it. When it gets used to it, we can understand what he’s saying. It’s like reading subtitles – the first 10 or 15 minutes it’s sorta weird, but then the brain adjusts itself and it’s automatic, and doesn’t bother you. You feel comfortable.

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  • Joe

    From what I understand, IMAX theaters typically program the sound mix for the movie and don’t use a different sound mix for the trailers. Hence, the low volume for the dialogue and high volume for the background noise in the prologue.

    If you watch one of the bootlegs of the prologue and jack up the volume for the audio, Bane’s voice is alot easier to understand.

    WB needs to address this problem with all of the IMAX theaters so this does not become an issue during the release of TDKR. A moviegoer should not have to wait until the Blu-Ray/DVD release to understand the dialogue of the antagonist.

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  • Andrew

    Personally, I’ve not been a big fan of the mixing of any movie Nolan has made since Memento. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still great movies. And I totally support wide volume ranges and depth. But it’s pretty tough to watch Inception without one minute leaning in to make out what’s being said, then the next minute being blown out of your seat by some ridiculously loud explosion. Yes, I understand this is what it may be like in real-life in the conversation-to-explosion transition/dichotomy. But I’ve never felt movies need to embrace that realism entirely. I don’t know. I’d rather not have to struggle to make out what a character is saying unless, as someone mentioned earlier, it’s the clear intent of the filmmaker. I really doubt making Bane unintelligible carries any artistic value or significance. It’s just a result of Nolan’s stubborn insistence that everything be as realistic as possible, even to a fault. Either way, the movie will still kick ass and everyone will still love it.

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