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THX redesigned its iconic movie theater intro, and it’s bonkers

This is the most ambitious 65-second blockbuster I’ve ever seen.

THX redesigned its iconic movie theater intro, and it’s bonkers
[Image: THX Ltd]

You probably recognize the THX logo, but you absolutely recognize THX’s sound. The high-end audio company, known for putting its stamp of approval on everything from movie theater screens to headphones, developed its “Deep Note” audio trademark in 1982. It’s a computer-generated glissando, which smears together several octaves of pitches until, at the last moment, they find a harmony that kicks you in the gut. The Deep Note has become an unmistakable part of the movie-going experience—when it plays before the trailers in a theater, you just know that some crazy, almost world-ending stuff is about to go down.

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Now, working with the creative studio American Meme, THX has released a new trailer for its Deep Note, dubbed “Genesis.” The Deep Note audio you’ll hear in the theater is the same, but how we get there is quite the trip. Allow me, dear reader, to offer you a play-by-play of the most ambitious 65-second blockbuster you’ve ever seen.

The trailer begins, aptly, with what would seem to be the beginning of time itself: The Big Bang. We’re flying through space, possibly through star nebula—no, wait. They’re just clouds. And under the clouds, a mountain range. But, actually—I’m typing this as I go and will not be editing out my errors—the mountain range was really just a vision inside a droplet of water. Scratch that, it’s a droplet of water resting atop a dragonfly’s wing! Defying all known laws of physics, the dragonfly takes flight in slow motion, spreading bioluminescence as it drifts over strange plant life. Eat your heart out, James Cameron.

[Image: THX Ltd]

That’s when the camera spins and we’re plunged underwater. Before you can even fathom the dragonfly’s fate, we’re being yanked out of the water. Now, we’re flying through a city ahead of a police chopper as it glances through an urban canyon. Is the chopper the reincarnated dragonfly? Is it a metaphor for human progress? Is it just there because kids will be like, “oh, cool chopper!”? No one knows. The camera yanks us out of this dream, away from the city until…you’re pulled through a snow globe. That’s right, you just got St. Elsewhere’d, chump. You just wasted 30 seconds of your fleeting existence flying around a damn glass globe. This rich narrative was penned, no lie, by the guy who wrote Sharknado.

Presumably, we are now firmly in the real world. Wait… No. It’s space. WE’RE IN SPACE NOW.

[Image: THX Ltd]

That’s when a robot wearing its hat sideways—that’s how you know he’s chill—hovers by. Chillbot hits some buttons on a panel, presumably managing one of his several fake THX worlds, owned and operated by THX purely to allow people with small bladders to run to the bathroom just one more time before the film starts. We’re on a spaceship that looks vaguely Stars Warsian, but not so Stars Warsian it will get a call from Disney’s lawyers. As we contemplate the legal precedents that shape modern cinema, whoosh—we’re hurtling through hyperspace.

Allow me to point out that we’re only 42 seconds into this masterpiece of cinema.

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We’re heading right into the bowels of the hangar that was docking the space ship. We plunge deeper and deeper into the electronic GI tract of the vessel. Finally, we arrive at the silver sphincter, only to be excreted into space itself. That’s when—what’s that sound? Finally, we’re offered the sweet release of the full Deep Note at last. What a story. The only thing this trailer is missing is a post-credits sequence where Nick Fury walks in and invites the Deep Note to join the Avengers project.

[Image: THX Ltd]

For THX, which again, doesn’t build speakers and audio equipment, but certifies an audio experience, moments like this intro are key in maintaining its brand, and thereby its market. THX’s whole business model is that the stamp of its brand matters. And so this trailer spreads the gospel of its value.

Obviously, this is a pretty old-school approach, framed around the engagement model of butts in the seats of traditional cinema. And you can see that when comparing THX’s approach to Netflix’s own mini version of its Deep Note that plays before Netflix Original films. It took Netflix two years to complete, but the intro is over in just a few seconds. Netflix has every motivation to get on with the show as quickly as possible.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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