While Interstellar rode a massive wave of praise in its earlier screenings, it eventually began to earn a bit of a reputation for being particularly flawed, at least in the audience's eyes, in one major respect. What started out as a handful of moviegoers experiencing sound problems has become a big enough phenomenon that a Cinemark theater in New York had to post the sign shown below to warn their patrons that it's not their fault the sound mix is "faulty;" it's Christopher Nolan's.
The Hollywood Reporter was on the story today, as they reported the sign's presence, as well as the corporate fallout that stemmed from the sign's apparently unauthorized posting. In an interesting twist, a corporate spokesperson for Cinemark went on record saying that that one location went rogue and posted that sign without any sort of corporate clearance.
Even more interesting is the fact that while a hard drive malfunction has been cited as the official cause for the sound problems, the problems were framed to be an issue with the digital presentation of the film, and not the IMAX presentation. However, even the IMAX presentation has been cited as a problem child when it comes to the sound. You'd think that considering the backlash The Dark Knight Rises encountered, Christopher Nolan would know what sort of issues the public would run into with the choices made on Interstellar's sound mix.
This isn't the first time that news has come forward labeling Interstellar's sound mix to be to the exact specifications that Nolan had set forward to exhibit. Knowing how particular the director is with every aspect of his projects, it's hard to believe that a sound mixing error would slip through his fingers and into the final cut of the film. In a recent profile in The New York Times, Christopher Nolan is noted to have personally calibrated a theater in New York, observing the sound quality in each section of the theater. If that isn't a sign that the mix of Interstellar is where it should be, then who knows what is.
So why would pieces of Interstellar's sound mix purposefully present themselves as problematic? The simplest explanation could be that Christopher Nolan mixed the sound to a certain degree on his own equipment, and didn't take into account that theaters across the world have different degrees of sound quality in their equipment. While he promised a sound mix that wouldn't require a theater to buy any sort of special equipment, even certain IMAX theaters will more than likely have problems with the sound mixing. So while Interstellar might have the same sound mix embedded in every copy of the film, your results will probably still vary from theater to theater.
Interstellar is in theaters now, and you might want to call your local theater before heading out to see if any complaints have been lodged in regards to the sound. But trust us, minor sound issues aside, it's still a worthy theatrical experience.
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CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.