I still remember the first time I saw and heard the Netflix theatrical logo. Sitting among a group of journalists at a film festival, we were all taken by surprise when instead of the now iconic Netflix “ta-daum” sound effect, a Netflix original film began like a superhero movie: There’s a ray of light in the sky, then a sudden wave of colors, and finally a crescendo of drums and strings that wouldn’t be out of place in Man of Steel. There was still the “ta-dum” at the end, but it was as if Netflix was announcing this was cinema. So perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the music was written by Hans Zimmer.
Indeed, the theatrical logo, which is several years old now, has played before theatrical screenings of multiple awards contenders and Netflix films making their debuts at film festivals: Roma and The Irishman, Marriage Story and Outlaw King, among many others. Yet, intriguingly, you only hear it if you’ve seen Netflix films in the theater. That’s by design as unpacked in Dallas Taylor’s latest Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast. Speaking with Netflix executives like Todd Yellin, vice president of Product at Netflix, and Tanya Kumar, a brand design lead, Taylor heard the origins of the “ta-dum” sound, which was always meant to be only three or four seconds—appealing to that ‘click and play content now’ need of modern streaming content—as well as the theatrical logo.
“We were sitting in the theater and the ‘ta-doo’ would come on and it would feel so short and so abrupt that you really didn’t quite understand what you saw before you dove right into the film,” Kumar said on the podcast. This led to some reevaluation of how the logo should be presented in cinemas. “If you’re in a theater, you’re in for the long experience, whether it’s an hour and a half or it’s two hours. You’re here to hear the whole story, sit down and experience it in the theater.”
Thus the solution became to keep the famous ta-dum sound effect, but write a rousing musical intro around it, more in line with other film studios like the 20th Century Fox fanfare or Universal Pictures’ rotating globe and overture.
“We ended up working with Hans Zimmer, mostly because he did a lot of work with us on The Crown,” Kumar said. Zimmer is of course known for a myriad of classic film scores, including The Lion King, Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Dark Knight, Inception, Interstellar, and many more. But he’s also worked with the streamer in the past and has an industry-wide reputation with capturing what creatives want. According to Kumar, Zimmer came up with six or seven various compositions that were then narrowed to three, and finally the one we have now.
If you haven’t seen a Netflix film in theaters, above you can find the rousing intro, which builds like a crescendo of anticipation until the ‘ta-dum’ releases viewers into the familiar comfort of the big N.