The score for “The Dark Knight” has been disqualified by the executive committee of the Academy music branch. Formal letters to that effect are expected to go out this week to composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, who collaborated on the music. Their previous collaboration, on “Batman Begins,” was similarly disqualified in 2005.
Sources inside the committee said that the big issue was the fact that five names were listed as composers on the music cue sheet, the official studio document that specifies every piece of music (along with its duration and copyright owner) in the film.
Zimmer said, in an interview with Variety prior to this week’s Acad action, that listing multiple names on the cue sheet was a way of financially rewarding parts of the music team who helped make the overall work successful. (Performing-rights societies like ASCAP and BMI use the cue sheet to distribute royalties to composers.)
Zimmer, Howard and the other three individuals — music editor Alex Gibson, ambient music designer Mel Wesson and composer Lorne Balfe — reportedly signed an affidavit stating that the score was primarily the work of Zimmer and Howard.
That apparently wasn’t enough for the majority of the committee, which was also supplied with documentation indicating that more than 60%, but less than 70%, of the score was credited to Zimmer and Howard.
The “Dark Knight” score — and the whole issue of multiple-composer collaboration, which is on the rise in Hollywood these days — has occupied about four hours of discussion over the past two executive committee meetings.
Some members sided with Zimmer and Howard; citing the originality and cutting-edge nature of the music, they urged others to keep the “Dark Knight” score eligible despite the cue-sheet issue.
Both Zimmer and Howard declined comment on the ruling. Both are seven-time nominees; Zimmer won for “The Lion King.”