AMC moviegoers will soon have the ability to watch any new release with onscreen subtitles.
The movie theater chain announced Tuesday that it would expand its captioning services (also called open captions) to more than 240 locations across the country. It’s one step closer to universal captioning, and one of the biggest accessibility moves by the company yet.
Prior to the expansion, a few select locations had already offered captioned screenings of blockbuster films, listed on the AMC app and website as “open captions (on screen subtitles).” Hundreds of new theater locations will now host accessible screenings.
The company says that any market with more than two theater locations will be included in the expansion, the Verge reports. The screening times will vary by location — from matinee showings to evening offerings to exclusively weekend times — and AMC will continue to adjust offerings based on customer demand.
The decision is beneficial not only for deaf and hard-of-hearing moviegoers, but also for people with audio processing disorders or filmgoers who use English as a second language and struggle to keep up with fast-moving dialogue.
Accessibility advocates have long called for more closed captioning services for television, movies, and streaming services, and have critiqued the current accessibility offerings, which are often broken, difficult to access, or just uncomfortable.
AMC currently offers assistive listening devices to amplify sounds for movie guests, as well as screen readers that display captions externally from the main screen and audio description devices that provide narration for people who are blind or have low vision.
The normalization of subtitle options across new releases and blockbusters may also benefit the kinds of films Americans are frequently exposed to, like non-English language films. In 2020, after winning the Oscar for best foreign film for Parasite, director Bong Joon Ho made a claim for Americans to get on the subtitle train, saying, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”
Making onscreen captioning available to more viewers is a positive move for both accessibility and media diversity, and a plain good business move to get more people back into seats.
Check out the new list of locations with open captioning or ask your local AMC theater to see if open captioning is available in your area.
This content was originally published here.