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Re: Zimmer, team, and alums rundown Pt 4 - MV 2003-04: Pirates Gets The Booty (4b)
• Posted by: Gitz   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at 11:03 p.m.
• IP Address: a172-225-45-69.deploy.static.akamaitechnologies.com
• In Response to: Zimmer, team, and alums rundown Pt 4 - MV 2003... (JBlough)

> This is part of a series. Part 4a can be found here:
> https://www.filmtracks.com/scoreboard/forum.cgi?read=108364

> Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) -
> ***½
> Themes and “overproduction” by Zimmer; lead composer Klaus Badelt;
> add’l music by Geoff Zanelli,
> Jim Dooley, Nick Glennie-Smith, Blake Neely, James McKee Smith, Ramin
> Djawadi & Steve Jablonsky;
> music design by Mel Wesson; technical music production by Trevor Morris;
> conducted by Blake Neely;
> orchestrations by B Fowler/Moriarty/McIntosh, Liz Finch, Conrad Pope,
> Robert Elhai, Bill Listen & Brad Warnaar;
> featured cello Martin Tillman; “music production services” by Jay
> Rifkin

> Geoff Zanelli: “Even making a pirate movie that year was irreverent.
> But then I remember seeing the teaser trailer and thinking ‘I wanna see
> that movie RIGHT NOW.’ And then a couple weeks later I [got] a call from
> Hans. ‘I think it’s up your alley.’”

> We arrive at this, the breaking point for some people who loved Zimmer’s
> early output and tolerated the Media Ventures years, but also the gateway
> drug that got a lot of people more interested in listening to film music
> (even if only occasionally).

> The film, an adaptation of a longstanding Disney theme park ride, had a
> challenging development history, with multiple script rewrites and some
> resistance from then-chairman and CEO Michael Eisner to spending another
> $100m or more on a live action film as he had with Bruckheimer’s Pearl
> Harbor
a few years earlier. Star Johnny Depp wasn’t seen as a
> commercial commodity at the time, and Disney executives were uncomfortable
> with his performance as pirate captain Jack Sparrow during filming; one
> asked if he was playing the role as gay, while Depp claimed Eisner thought
> he was “ruining the film.” Zimmer, learning of the film years
> before it was released, thought it was the worst idea he had ever heard.

> Yet the movie - a funny, exciting, unpretentious good time enhanced by
> creative use of then-innovative digital effects - completely snuck up on
> audiences and even film critics. It entrenched Depp and Orlando Bloom as
> stars, gave Keira Knightley her big break, even got Depp an Oscar
> nomination for Best Actor, and became a license for Disney to print money,
> which it would happily do by producing four lucrative but less enchanting
> sequels.

> Back to the Future and Predator composer Alan Silvestri had
> provided the music for director Gore Verbinski’s first two films, though
> music for Gore’s 2002 supernatural horror remake The Ring was by
> Zimmer & team. Silvestri was originally on board for this swashbuckler
> and had ideas (likely in the demo stage) for the score, but had his work
> halted fairly early when Commodore Bruckheimer didn’t like what he was
> hearing. “Gore was new to Jerry’s world at that time. Jerry Bruckheimer
> is a huge force in his films, and he should be. He’s had tremendous
> success. I never got past [the first few scenes]. It wasn’t like I scored
> the film and it was rejected. [Jerry was] much more comfortable working in
> a way that he had worked historically, with people he had worked with
> historically. I didn’t find it strange. It just wasn't the right chemistry
> in the end. We had a really lovely chat after all of that, and there's no
> harm, no foul there.”
Silvestri would be fine in the long term; he
> would continue to score major movies, including multiple hit films in the
> Marvel Cinematic Universe, and also enjoy running a winery on the side.

> Klaus Badelt would claim the temp track had a lot of film music by Jerry
> Goldsmith and Michael Kamen in it, and said Bruckheimer felt what he was
> hearing was “too close to the pirate genre - triplets and horn
> fanfares.”
As with The Rock, Jerry asked Hans to come salvage
> things. Hans would remember getting “a phone call from Gore on a Sunday
> going, ‘Come over. Look at this thing.’ He showed me a movie I couldn’t
> possibly have imagined, and I loved how wrong I was. The old pirate thing
> has been done very well by old people who are all dead by now. Johnny Depp
> doesn’t play in the style of Errol Flynn. Pirates, they are like rock n’
> rollers, but rock n’ roll would be inappropriate. So I was thinking
> [about] what existed at that time that had that sort of spirit. Irish
> jigs, there’s bravery and boldness and a heroic quality to [them].”

> It’s worth noting that Zimmer also claimed to seek inspiration from Irish
> jigs for the prior year’s Spirit.

> Hans was deep into work on The Last Samurai and was (perhaps due to
> his contract) unable to step away even part-time. In the early days of his
> career he might’ve said no (think back to him stepping away from The
> Client
because he was too busy and Howard Shore filling in). Instead,
> with a large support team he could fall back on, he took the night to demo
> his ideas before handing those off to the Media Ventures gang. “I went
> home and started writing ideas at 7:30 in the evening. The playing gets
> worse and worse - my fingers aren’t moving properly, now it’s 5 in the
> morning.”
One of his later tracks on the demo is clearly recycled from
> his music for the mid-90s parachuting action film Drop Zone.
> Another hammering idea is yanked from The Rock by way of Black
> Hawk Down
.

> Klaus Badelt was the point person for the score and was optimistic - “I
> thought we could do something cool”
- but it was still a gargantuan
> ask to request basically the same amount of replacement score that was
> done for Face/Off but in much less time (no more than 23 days to
> write and record, per Zanelli). This kind of “create some demos/suites,
> then do the score” approach had been intentionally done with large-scale
> productions by the MV crew (and alum Mark Mancina) and on scores with
> incredibly short turnaround times, but never with both scenarios at the
> same time. And they would even lose a collaborator when Steve Jablonsky
> got pulled into the similarly hectic work on the Bad Boys sequel
> score, though you can hear his contributions in a few places including
> Jack’s escape from the British, a early sword fight, and the villain
> Barbossa’s dinner with Keira Knightly’s character. The production was so
> rushed that its four different sessions to record the music had to take
> place in three different studios. All this work would add $2 million to
> the film’s budget. Even the track names for the album packaging were
> selected before any of the music had been recorded.

> It seemed like the first time this had ever happened, but students of
> history (or really more like a very small subset of film obsessives, or an
> even smaller subset of people who bought a particular album released in
> 2003) knew better. Another film had used almost exactly the same methods
> Zimmer and his Pirates crew had done to get the music written on a
> tight deadline - over 60 years earlier! It is time to talk about The
> Blue Bird
.

> —------------

> The seabed of Hollywood is littered with the wreckage of imitator films
> that were made to cash in on trends started by a recent hit and instead
> sank ignominiously. Think of all the films that had their characters in
> black leather outfits after The Matrix. Or the mafia films chasing
> after the success of The Godfather. Fantasy films that assumed
> audiences who liked The Lord of the Rings trilogy would pay for
> anything else fantastical on screen are big offenders here - think the
> dead-on-arrival reception to Eragon and the misbegotten Percy
> Jackson
films that have been disowned by the author of the source
> novels. Better yet, don’t think of them.

> The Blue Bird, an attempt by 20th Century Fox head Daryl F. Zanuck
> to mount a big, magical movie not too dissimilar to The Wizard of
> Oz
, doesn’t seem to be one of those at first glance. Oz was
> actually a huge flop when it came out, losing money for its studio and
> only becoming a beloved film through years of re-releases and critical
> reappraisals, and Zanuck had started work on Bird in 1939 before
> Oz was even released. But the screenplay for Bird - an
> episodic one about a little girl who gets swept away to a wondrous land,
> is followed around by animal companions, and is occasionally assisted in
> her journey by a white-clad fairy - is awfully close to the Oz
> adventures of Dorothy. More damning is that Zanuck, shortly before the
> release, demanded that the opening Austrian scenes of Bird be
> switched to black & white, just like the Kansas scenes in Oz.

> Bird would largely fall flat with audiences, and there are so many
> things about it beyond its similarities to Oz, some of them deeply
> weird, that explain its failure. It threw child star Shirley Temple (still
> the #1 box office draw in the country at the time, but known for more
> realistic comedies and dramas as well as musicals like The Littlest
> Rebel
) into a fantasy environment audiences clearly didn’t accept her
> in. Nearly every character has a very quirky name; even for a 1940s
> audience, it was probably patently ridiculous to have everyone called
> things like Mytyl or Crabapple or (best of all) Mr. Luxury. And its
> climactic sequence involves Father Time suddenly appearing and putting a
> bunch of fantasyland children (or maybe their souls?) on a boat so they
> can be shipped down to Earth to be born, including a kid who appears to be
> the soul of Abraham Lincoln. Temple would much later in life call the film
> an ill-conceived thing “halfway between vaudeville and ponderous
> spirituality.”

> Composer Alfred Newman (now best-known for the 20th Century Fox Fanfare
> that introduced the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as a number
> of classic scores from Hollywood’s Golden Age) signed his contract to head
> up the studio’s music department before the film went into production, and
> it was one of the first things he worked on. Newman, like Zimmer with his
> commitment to do The Last Samurai, had ongoing assignments on at
> least five films at other studios when he took the job. Newman would jot
> down ideas for themes for Bird, sometimes fairly late into the
> night, before handing them off to his colleagues to develop, orchestrate,
> and/or arrange them for full orchestra (similar to how Zanelli described
> getting work on Pirates). David Raksin, one of at least five
> composers who supported Newman with the rush job, said he “lived at the
> studio and worked like a demon on that thing.”
And, just as Zimmer
> would recycle ideas he’d used previously in The Rock and Drop
> Zone
, Newman would reprise one of his ideas from an earlier film,
> though this rehash may be a tad more forgivable since it was from a film
> about a young Abe Lincoln. Heck, in this case the production schedule was
> tighter - Newman and team apparently wrote the whole thing in 10 days,
> which was over a week less than the Media Ventures crowd had in 2003.

> I doubt Zimmer or Badelt or anyone involved with the production of
> Pirates knew anything about these similarities. The music for
> The Blue Bird (which is actually quite good) wasn’t even released
> on CD until four months after Pirates came out in theaters. It’s
> obscure, even by the standards of older film music, as is the film it came
> from. But it is at least amusing to think that, for all of Zimmer’s talk
> of reinvention and experimentation and not doing the expected, he was
> basically running his company like an old Hollywood studio department
> under duress.

> But enough history. Back to Pirates.

> —------------

> Klaus did write or sketch out a good portion of the score based on
> Zimmer’s demo, but was also very much a team leader like Zimmer had been
> on many of his prior efforts. “There’s over a hundred minutes of music;
> the only way to do this was to have seven or eight co-writers. At the end
> I was playing things out on a piano and handing it to orchestrators with a
> string patch and describing what I wanted out of it for the final version
> - I was managing more than writing. Hans was very good at calming Jerry
> down. He knew Gore from The Ring so he was a good liaison. His producer
> title is very accurate.”
Hilariously, as Badelt was the credited
> composer in the film and on the front of the album cover, Zimmer was asked
> at a Q&A session in 2014 what it was like to adapt Klaus Badelt’s themes
> for the sequels.

> Zanelli estimates he had a hand in about 25% of the score, a good chunk of
> which ended up on the 44-minute album release. “I worked up a different
> arrangement of [a theme from the demo] - it ended up on the album as
> ‘Barbossa Is Hungry’, the sort of big butch one with the rock drum fills.
> I guess that solidified my position on the project. I did the ‘Moonlight
> Serenade’ - which Hans had very roughly mapped out. That was the first
> movie ever where I felt like my voice was being heard; that was really
> exciting.”
He would be the only composer to work across the entire
> franchise, with contributions on the next three sequels and a lead role on
> the 2017 entry.

> According to Hans, this is when Ramin Djawadi put on his big boy pants and
> got to work. “If you don’t get the sword fight with the donkey right,
> you might as well bury the movie. Very quietly, the guy who was making the
> coffee, who I didn’t think played a musical instrument, said, ‘When you go
> home tonight, do you mind if I have a go at it?’”
Not only would this
> be similar to how Steve Jablonsky started getting work after The
> Fan
, it also suggests an alternate universe where Djawadi doesn’t show
> such initiative and maybe doesn’t score Game of Thrones nearly
> eight years later, thus proving true what recent Super Bowl-winning coach
> Bruce Arians once said: “no risk it, no biscuit.”

> BUT JON, WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE SCORE?

> I appreciated some things more this time.

> First off, yes, this work is clearly derivative, but the Media Ventures
> scores from the nineties and the aughts that this is inspired by (if not
> outright stealing from) never had this sense of playfulness about
> themselves. An exuberance is here in ways that obviously weren’t in The
> Peacemaker
; the sprightly cello solo that kicks off this score’s album
> doesn’t have anything to do with that earlier score (though it is
> suspiciously similar to Edward Shearmur’s music from an earlier adaptation
> of The Count of Monte Cristo). Like Spirit, it’s maybe not
> the most appropriate fit for the genre, but that doesn’t make it
> ill-fitting for the film, or inherently terrible as something standalone.

> Second, sure, it’s not the most sophisticated music. Like The Rock,
> everything on here is very direct. Countermelodies, counterpoint,
> anything that would usually get a soundtrack reviewer to say something
> like “it’s fully orchestral” - those are largely absent. There are a lot
> of unison hits by the performing group. Drum pads seem present. Even if
> they’d had more time, they probably couldn’t have produced a score more
> tailor-made to Bruckheimer’s preferences.

> And yet that directness may be part of this work’s charm. Like The
> Rock
, those main themes are very effective, and often quite catchy.
> It’s a trend I can trace all the way back to the Vegas cue in Rain
> Man
- “I should hate this, but dang it, I don’t.”

> Third, it’s coherent. Even with Badelt farming out a good chunk of the
> work, all the material “fits” in the same sonic universe. There’s
> momentum, and there are ideas that develop over multiple minutes. It
> doesn’t feel like the work of (checks notes) eleven or so composers
> stitched together (at least with regards to the composition; the recording
> is a different matter), something you can’t say for some of the other past
> and future scores that featured this many participants.

> Fourth, it’s fun! I know I have, like, dozens of Mahler symphony
> recordings, and right now I even feel like conductor Michael Tilson Thomas
> is looking at me through one of those album covers and judging me. But you
> like what you like.

> On the other hand, a lot of complaints I had years ago remain, and I even
> found some new ones this time around.

> First, even accounting for the limited time they had, it’s a really
> synth-heavy sound for a film that could’ve used something more refined.
> Sure, cheap has intruded on the genre before, and I’d rather have this
> than, say, the swordfight music from The Princess Bride (something
> so painful it detracts from its otherwise wonderful scene). But it’s one
> thing to have an occasionally abrasive sound in something like Drop
> Zone
, which was the first time they were writing with their new sample
> library, and another thing entirely to get that abrasive eight years later
> with a bigger budget. The score brings back a lot of issues some people
> had with these scores in the 1990s, when MV composers would start using
> larger and larger orchestras but write for them and/or record them in a
> way that made you question why they bothered using one in the first case
> (or bragging about how big it was).

> It feels like there are synths layered on top of everything - and,
> amazingly, they might have been according to Badelt. “There’s lots of
> sword fighting and cannons and ocean, and the sound mix is strong. They
> said, ‘Just write first and then we’ll take it out!’ What I did mostly to
> make the music cut through is that everything you hear, strings and bass,
> is doubled by analog synths - you’d notice if you turned them off. Jerry
> doesn’t like it if you hear the bow on the strings; he thinks that sound
> is old-fashioned.”

> Second, there’s a jarring inconsistency to the instrumental mix at times,
> a function perhaps of so many people working on it and also how many
> different recording groups were used. Some parts sound like fully
> electronic material that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Beast
> Wars: Transformers
episode, while other parts give you clarity enough
> to hear something like the horn solo in the album track Swords
> Crossed
(right before it goes into the rockin’ music yanked from
> (sorry) The Rock). Others have already brought up the distortion
> that seems to be in a few tracks.

> Third, I’m now much more well-versed in the pan pipe sounds that
> supersaturated Zimmer’s work in the 80s and 90s, so their regular use in
> this score almost came off as self-parody. I had to stifle a few chuckles
> (“oh, THESE again?”).

> It’s great. It’s terrible. It’s everything in between. I had it as a
> high-end **½ work before, which seems to suggest I was just as much of a
> snob as that jazz critic was when he covered the Ghent concert. It ends up
> sandwiched right between Muppet Treasure Island and The Rock
> on my rankings of Zimmer scores, which was not intended by me at all
> before I started listening to the album this time but feels very fitting
> given everything I just wrote.

> Despite the chaos, many of the participants have fond memories of the
> whole experience. Blake Neely perhaps put it best. ”In [2040], if I’m
> still alive, I’ll still look back on that as one of the funnest three
> weeks of my career. We had an absolute ball. It’s always been funny to me
> - people have no problem with there being 15 people doing costumes and 30
> people doing sets, but when it comes to music they get really upset if
> it’s not one person by himself. I think the collaboration is helpful.”

> It would be paradise compared to the other project going on at the
> factory.
>
>

> Bad Boys II (2003) - *
> Trevor Rabin & Paul Linford; add’l music by HGW & Toby Chu;
> other add’l score by Steve Jablonsky, Mark Mancina, Heitor Pereira, Trevor
> Morris, Clay Duncan & Mel Wesson;
> but wait…there’s more add’l music by Diddy, Dr. Dre, and Tony Dofat;
> Heitor Pereira & Martin Tillman as musicians

> Discovery #35 - I considered skipping this one, but the great quotes about
> its production made listening to it once too intriguing to pass up.

> Bad Boys II, the long-awaited sequel to the 1995 hit from Michael
> Bay & Jerry Bruckheimer, was hated by most film critics but was an
> over-the-top smash success with audiences. It almost instantaneously
> became an influential action movie touchstone, with Edgar Wright’s
> somewhat parodic movie Hot Fuzz treating it with almost hallowed
> reverence four years later. Most of the marketing focus for its music was
> on the many rap songs produced by Diddy’s new Bad Boy Records company such
> as Nelly’s Shake Ya Tailfeather. No media attention was paid to the
> score. Heck, it didn’t even get an album release. You could infer that
> it’s because the studio saw no point in putting out a product that might
> compete with a song soundtrack CD it was trying to get big sales from -
> and did, with over a million units sold within two months. But the
> behind-the-scenes mess likely played just as much of a role.

> Mark Mancina originally came back to reprise his music from the first
> film, even though he didn’t seem like he had the greatest time working
> with Bay & Bruckheimer eights years earlier. It went about as well as
> expected. “I should have been fired off Bad Boys 2. I didn’t want to
> rewrite the same thing. They didn’t want anything else. I involved Trevor
> [Rabin], and then it was best if he took over; Michael Bay didn’t like
> what I was doing.”
Rabin, who after co-composing for Armageddon
> claimed working with Michael Bay was “amazing”, would say he ended
> up working 16 hours a day on this. Steve Jablonsky, having impressed Bay
> on Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, would be pulled off of
> Pirates to contribute. Harry Gregson-Williams and his assistant
> helped, as did four other Media Ventures composers. Weirdly, some of
> Mancina’s material ended up in the final cut of the film. Even the fansite
> Hans-Zimmer dot com, usually a fairly good reference point in
> understanding where each composer contributed additional music, has yet to
> reconcile the question of who did what on this composer-palooza; the only
> reason we know the opening track Xtreme Machine is by Rabin team
> member Paul Linford is because it’s noted in the end credits.

> Bay’s hyperactive editing style often doesn’t lend itself to scenes with
> music tied to the specific movements or activities of the characters;
> often little more than a minute or two of electronic coolness was required
> (that The Rock was not just this suggests Bruckheimer had less
> influence on the music this go-round). And, given the sheer amount of
> songs in the movie, you could assume this was another Forces of
> Nature
or Gone In 60 Seconds case of needing to write music
> that just fit with the aesthetic without calling too much attention to
> itself. However, there’s a difference between a filler score that’s 30
> minutes long and has its moments and a filler score that’s almost 90
> minutes long plus almost another hour of alternates. For those who have
> managed to hear the score standalone, it can seem endless. Hilariously, it
> is almost the polar opposite of Zimmer’s score for Bay’s prior film
> Pearl Harbor - nothing is pretty, there’s no orchestra, and there’s
> no big theme.

> It’s almost like Bay listened to just the first 15 seconds of the intro to
> Trevor Rabin’s classic NBA on TNT theme song and hired Rabin on the
> basis of having nothing more distinctive than that. The music doesn’t
> detract from its film, but it does nothing to enhance it. It has no
> discernable personality save for its lack of personality. Forget the fact
> that the music could have come from anyone (though, given the amount of
> composers involved, that arguably did happen). The music could have come
> from any other film. Mancina’s Bad Boys wasn’t exactly a classic of
> modern action scoring, but it did at least make some effort to root you in
> a specific time and place. With the exception of maybe the first half of a
> mortuary track and a section where Martin Tillman’s electric cello is
> prominent, you get none of that, and even that latter section seems to
> root you in Somalia during Black Hawk Down rather than Miami or
> Cuba.

> And it has none of the coherence of Pirates, possibly because the
> Bad Boys II music production process seemed to be an “every man for
> themself” effort rather than the coordinated rush job spearheaded by Klaus
> Badelt (ironic given Bay’s frequent focus on macho brotherhood in his
> films). Some parts feel recycled from other Media Ventures films. Others
> suggest the blander portions of Bay’s later Transformers (some of
> the electronic pulses in the freeway chase, for example). Maybe Jablonsky
> did those. Who knows? Who cares??? There are a few moments of redemption,
> but on average these don’t last much longer than 30 seconds. Heck, no mood
> really lasts much more than 30 seconds here. You basically just have to
> chalk it up to what Bay tended to prefer in his movies going forward and
> move on - even if it’s the nadir of this rundown so far.

> It’s probably a ** score in context and a * star listen outside the film
> due to completely abandoning any and all ideas from its predecessor and
> replacing them with indifference. I resent the process that led to this
> music more than the music itself, but I still picked the lower rating.

> Unlike with Pirates, I doubt any symphonic pops ensembles or high
> school orchestras requested sheet music of this score so they could play
> it live.

> Fun fact #1: there appear to be no credited orchestrators or conductors.
> Fun fact #2: I have shown an alarming tendency to request Shake Ya
> Tailfeather
at weddings.

> ———————-

> Next time - the music gods look down upon the masses and say “fine, HERE’S
> your pirate score.”

Holy shit.

Bravo. Just…Bravo.

The guy who runs this website should be running these posts as legit articles. This is amazing work. Are you a writer by trade? You’ve got quite the knack for it. You know how to tell a story. Someone should be paying you for this lol.




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