Netflix’s “dun dun” sound that plays before an original movie is pretty familiar, but in order to spice it up a little for films that receive theatrical releases, the streamer teamed up with composer Hans Zimmer.
The sound, which can be heard in the video below, has little in common with the short “ta-dum” sound that I’ve become used to hearing. It’s, well, incredibly Hans Zimmer; orchestral, intense, loud. The “ta-dum” as it existed on Netflix was too short for theaters, and the company knew it needed something longer to play in theaters. Netflix’s brand design lead Tanya Kumar told Dallas Taylor, creator and host of the Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast, that Netflix knew it wanted to work with someone who had deep ties to cinema but also worked with Netflix in the past. Enter Zimmer.
The Netflix “ta-dum” soundmark is one of the all time greats, but doesn’t work as well in a theater because it’s only 3 seconds long.
So Netflix commissioned Hans Zimmer to extend it for theaters and … it’s … so … good.pic.twitter.com/RGw26vCAGY
— Siqi Chen (@blader) August 9, 2020
Zimmer worked with Netflix on The Crown, and the score has a “simplicity and elegancy to it that we thought was perfect for bringing into our brand as well,” Kumar said. The challenge was finding a way to keep Netflix’s “ta-dum” audio but make it bigger and far more cinematic, Taylor explains.
The goal was to make Zimmer’s version feel better, more immersive — something people might expect to hear in a theater. Think of the iconic THX siren or 20th Century’s fanfare. All of this had to be done in a way that felt explicitly Netflix, and, in some ways, opposite of the team’s intention with the original “ta-dum,” which had to be short.
“First off, and arguably most important, it had to be really short,” Todd Yellin, vice president of product at Netflix, said. “In our age of click and play, you get to Netflix, you want to be able to click, and there’s no patience, you just want to get to what you’re watching.”
Considering Netflix’s “ta-dum” launched just five years ago in 2015, it’s kind of wild to see just how much it’s changed as Netflix adapts to the industry it’s in. Netflix movies a few years ago didn’t even go to theaters, really, but now the studio spends time each year ensuring its Oscar hopefuls get some time to play on the big screen.