Open captions—which are different from closed captions only in that they’re always present on the screen and can’t be turned off by the viewer—provide critical assistance for deaf and hard-of-hearing moviegoers who aren’t typically accommodated in most commercial theater experiences. And some people just prefer to have captions on whether they’re needed or not.
“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, executive vice president of worldwide programming and chief content officer of AMC, said in a press release. “Initial consumer response has been very positive, and we anticipate strong demand with growing awareness of open caption showtimes at AMC.”
The announcement of expanded support for open captioning comes just as Deaf actress Lauren Ridloff, a “The Walking Dead” alum who plays Makkari in the imminent Marvel release “Eternals,” has become increasingly vocal about the lack of accessibility in movie theaters across the U.S.
“We’re an afterthought in movie theaters, and that needs to change,” she told the New York Times in a September interview. “You have to use a special closed-captioning device to watch subtitling in a theater, and it’s a headache.”
In a tweet heralding the expanded access, AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron directly referenced “Eternals,” seemingly a nod to Ridloff’s recent advocacy.
“I am proud to announce that @AMCTheatres permanently will offer some Open Caption showtimes each week,” Aron wrote. “A real advance for those with hearing difficulties or where English is a second language. And right in time for Eternals from @Disney.”
As of this week, anyone looking for more accessible screenings can use AMCTheatres.com and the AMC mobile app to find open caption showtimes at participating theaters. According to AMC, those showtimes currently represent “...a mix of weekend and weekdays, evenings and matinees, and are expected to evolve with movie-going demand and guest feedback.”