Oct. 21, 2021 -- AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest movie chain, is putting captions on big screens in movie theaters across the country, giving more access to those who are deaf and hard of hearing.

The new move will roll out in 240 theaters in more than 100 U.S. markets, which makes up about 40% of the company’s theaters. Filmgoers can find the locations and showtimes on the AMC app and website, and access to the captions could be adjusted based on audience demand.

Advocates have called for open captioning in recent years to serve the 48 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing, The Washington Post reported. Younger audiences have also become used to seeing dialogue and audio text on screens as captions have been put onto streaming and social media platforms.

Many viewers have also opted to turn on captions while watching shows and movies at home to focus their attention, understand nuanced plots, or hear quiet dialogue, the newspaper reported.

AMC said the open captioning for upcoming new releases is meant to expand the moviegoing audience, including those who speak English as a second language.

“By adding open captions to the variety of presentation formats we offer, AMC locations become a more welcoming place for millions of Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as many for whom English is not their native language,” Elizabeth Frank, AMC’s executive vice president of worldwide programming and chief content officer, said in a statement.

“Initial consumer response has been very positive, and we anticipate strong demand with growing awareness of open caption showtimes at AMC,” she said.

The initiative will start in time for showings of Marvel’s Eternals, which is set to open on Nov. 5. The film features actress Lauren Ridloff, who is deaf and plays the first deaf superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, according to The New York Times.

“Detractors of open captions often have argued that the wider hearing audience would revolt over them, or that these would be a losing business proposition for theaters,” Christian Vogler, a professor at Gallaudet University, which serves the deaf, told the Times.

“The fact that a large national chain has had a change of heart is significant and may even open the floodgates for others to follow suit,” he said.

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Sources

The Washington Post: “AMC bringing captions to big screens across the country.”

AMC: “AMC Theatres Launches Open Caption Program in 101 U.S. Markets.”

The New York Times: “AMC to Add Onscreen Captions at Some Locations.”

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