A few weeks ago we heard that Warner Bros. execs were getting nervous about Bane's garbled dialogue in the IMAX prologue for The Dark Knight Rises, but we also heard that Christopher Nolan was flat-out refusing to make any big changes to improve his villain's voice. Now someone in the know is speaking up about a new soundtrack mix that just hit theaters. Did Nolan cave after all?
A source with a friend in the IMAX projection business contacted Collider Sunday to share the news that a new mix has hit the screens showing the TDKR prologue (ahead of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol screenings). According to the source, the background noise is dialed down significantly in the film's opening scene, making Bane much easier to hear.
"A friend of mine who is an IMAX projectionist told me they received a new soundtrack for the Dark Knight Rises prologue. He said it's now a combo soundtrack with Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, but the cool thing about this is that they've cleaned up the dialogue. They've gone in and lowered the background noise of the plane and other things, thus making Bane's dialogue clearer and more understandable. He asked some people after they left the movie if they could understand Bane and they all said they had no issue understanding him, and were excited for the movie."
We heard back in December that Nolan did concede to possible slight changes in the sound, but not a major overhaul. This source seems to be telling us that he's sticking to that by altering the sound around Bane rather than the sound of Bane himself. When asked to clarify how much clearer the sound is, the source said, "40-50%, because he's no longer being overpowered by the background noise that drowned him out before."
So Nolan hasn't made a big change to his villain, but he's got a clearer voice anyway. That sounds like a win-win. We'll have to wait until the summer to see if we can understand Bane for the length of a film, but at least we're hearing now that Nolan isn't opposed to giving his audience a little help.
UPDATE: New York Times arts and culture writer Dave Itzkoff is reporting that Warner Bros. says there's "no truth" to the new soundtrack rumor. So either this is all in viewers' heads or the studio just doesn't want to come clean about it.