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News of the World on Netflix starring Tom Hanks: who wrote the music and can you buy the soundtrack?

James Newton Howard takes an unusual approach to scoring Westerns in his work on Netflix's drama News of the World

Who wrote the music to News of the World on Netflix

What’s the story of Netflix’s News of the World?

Tom Hanks stars in American Western drama film News of the World as Civil War veteran Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd who travels from town to town as a newsreader, sharing stories from across the globe. While in Texas, he meets ten-year-old Johanna who is being returned to her aunt and uncle against her will, having grown up with the Kiowa people for the previous six years. Kidd (Hanks) agrees to deliver her to her new home, and the film follows their journey together in challenging conditions.

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Who wrote the score for Netflix’s News of the World?

American composer James Newton Howard, best known for his work on Pretty WomanMy Best Friend’s Wedding, The Sixth Sense and King Kong, has written the score to News of the World. He has worked across both film and TV, receiving eight Academy Award nominations over his career and a both an Emmy and Grammy. Fans of ER will recognise him as the composer of the show’s iconic theme tune.

Howard worked alongside Hans Zimmer for several Batman films including The Dark Knight.

Here, James Newton Hoard discusses the process of writing for the film, describing the way he was able to be more minimalist in his approach to other Westerns.

The main theme for the film was built out of a hymn-like melody Howard created on the piano, having viewed the protagonist as a good, church-going man.

Which instruments are featured in the film?

‘I wanted the score to be a Civil War consort,’ says News of the World director Paul Greengrass. ‘A group of musicians back from the Civil War – all their hopes and dreams have been smashed and all their instruments were broken.’ Howard wanted the orchestra to sound ‘untrained’ and ‘vastly imperfect’, using old gut-string instruments to create a ‘primitive’ sound.

A 70-piece orchestra is used throughout the score, as well as fiddles, guitars and banjos, a mandolin, bass harmonica and viola da gamba. Howard adds electronics for the darker parts of the action.

How was the score recorded during lockdown?

The team was split across the world – director Paul Greengrass in Oxfordshire, editor William Goldenberg in London and James Newton Howard in Santa Monica – so they had to meet via video conferencing software and share demos online.

The orchestral score was recorded in London’s Abbey Road Studios in June 2020 after lockdown was slightly eased. The various parts of the orchestra – strings, brass and woodwinds – recorded separately to allow for social distancing.

Can you buy the soundtrack to News of the World?

James Newton Howard’s soundtrack for News of the World is available to buy and download on iTunes and buy as a CD from Amazon.

Where can you stream the soundtrack to News of the World?

The film is available to stream now on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music and Deezer.

Is Netflix’s News of the World based on a true story?

News of the World is based on a novel of the same name by Paulette Jiles, which is a fictional tale. It was a finalist in the National Book Award in 2016.

You can buy Paulette Jiles’s News of the World from the following outlets.

Where can you watch News of the World online?

News of the World is produced by Netflix and Universal Pictures and will be released on Netflix. It initially received a theatrical release in the US in December 2020, following an announcement from Netflix in November stating that it had acquired the international rights to the film, with the exceptions of the US and China.

US audiences can watch it on demand online.

When is News of the World released on Netflix?

News of the World will be released on Netflix to stream worldwide on Wednesday 10 February 2021.

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Watch the trailer for News of the World