Why 'Interstellar' Sound Issues Have Ignited a Hollywood Uproar

nterstellar starring Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey
Melinda Sue Gordon/Paramount Pictures

A still from 2014's Interstellar starring Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey.

Is the score too loud? The mix muddy? Insiders say yes

Buzz around the film Interstellar, the Christopher Nolan-helmed space saga starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, hasn’t been particularly positive when it comes to the sound mix. Specifically, complaints that the dialogue can’t be understood or sometimes even heard in parts of the film — particularly over Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer's orchestral score — are getting louder.

The topic is being debated around Hollywood, both after its Nov. 7 release (the film came in behind Big Hero 6 with $47.5 million in its opening weekend) and in informal conversations at screenings and at industry events. But so far, neither the studio (Paramount) nor Zimmer's reps will acknowledge that an issue exists.

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Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one sound professional who saw Interstellar at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills says, "That is the best-sounding private theater in the world, and I noticed right away that there were parts where the music totally obliterates the dialogue. Many others in the sound community were starting to question whether it was an anomaly or the way the film had been released."

It appears to be the latter, as similar comments are coming from moviegoers who saw Interstellar in other venues, notably Imax theaters.

Even more curious: Interstellar's sound-mixing team includes rerecording mixers Gary Rizzo and Gregg Landaker, both experienced pros who had previously worked with Nolan. Rizzo even won an Oscar for Nolan's 2010 movie Inception.

"Any professional would have spoken up and said, 'We can't hear the dialogue,'" offers the insider, adding that the biggest problem could be "it takes you out of the movie."

This article first appeard in the Nov. 22 issue of Billboard.