My fight for more subtitled cinema showings

Imagine seeing a film advertised that you’d like to see… that excitement builds up inside, so you send a message to your friend; ‘Hey, let’s go and see this when it’s out!’

The release date comes, so you check your cinema’s website for a subtitled showing… ‘NO SHOWINGS AVAILABLE’… or 1 or 2 showings but you’re either busy/at school/at work so you can’t go.

The worst feeling? Your friends watching the film without you, just because cinemas won’t put any more subtitled screenings on.

And so begins another lengthy tweet and email to the cinema about the lack of showings, only for them to come back with a substandard reply of ‘we try our best, but here’s some free tickets’ (to films we can’t even watch!), so we give up and it happens again and again.

I’m at that stage where I’m so fed up with hearing these stories, that I’ve taken the challenge to campaign for more ‘reasonable’ subtitled cinema showings. Deaf people who rely on subtitles deserve the equal right to be able to go to the cinema as often as our hearing peers can. This time, I’M NOT GIVING UP!

My campaign so far…

I’ve been in contact with cinemas, writing letters, requesting meetings, and with luck I’ve only had one meeting with a local cinema Manager. She was helpful and will hopefully put me in touch with someone at Head Office to arrange a meeting, although film showings seem to be governed mainly by film producers. The aim for me is to work with one cinema’s Head Office to make these ‘reasonable’ changes, and hopefully the other cinemas will follow on.

I’ve also got a petition which is nearly at 5000 signatures [link: ], please sign and share, the more the better!

I’ve been gathering research and evidence of the number of subtitled cinema showings, compared to non-subtitled screenings and I’m also working closely with others who share the same passion to combine our efforts and put our research together. I’m also working closely with a Deaf organisation to figure out what the next step is!

The shocking statistics

Here are some of the surprising, but true statistics from the research I’ve done…

  • Venue 1, in one month; 30 out of 1213 showings were subtitled = 5%
  • Venue 2, in the same month; 8 out of 652 showings were subtitled = 2%
  • A new blockbuster film, at Venue 1 in the opening week there were 179 showings, but only 2 were subtitled = 1% and one of those was at midnight.

Understandably these are very low, and are they considered ‘reasonable’ in line with the Equality Act? How the cinemas think this is ‘equal access’, I don’t know…

The arguments

The cinemas argue that there’s no demand for subtitled showings. This is because there are very few showings we can attend (Deaf people have jobs!) and most have given up going, hence ‘no demand’!

However, if they increase the subtitled showings at more reasonable times, and with good advertising – there is potential. With 11 million people with hearing loss in the UK, i.e. 1 in 6 of the population (set to increase by 14 million in 2031), we aren’t a minority group… plus, it’s a business opportunity they’re missing out on.

Subtitles aren’t just for deaf people, a lot of people find them educational or useful to understand the dialogue. Also useful for those who English isn’t their first language.

The other argument that ‘hearing people complain how distracting they are’, the subtitled showings are advertised so they are aware and they have hundreds of other showings to choose from, whereas we haven’t got a choice!

Cinemas, please work with us

We’re not asking for every film to be subtitled, all we are asking for is a few subtitled showings of each film a week, at reasonable times and days.

Especially when cinemas are struggling to fill seats, rather than giving ‘copy and paste’ answers, or refusing to help, please let us work with you to turn the cinema into a more enjoyable experience for deaf people. We want to be equal.

You wouldn’t turn away a wheelchair user, so why turn us away just because we need subtitles?

How you can help!

Again, please sign my petition, the more signatures the better! [link: ]

We’d love to hear your cinema experiences (good/bad), please use the hashtag #subtitledcinema and tag your cinema/s in to show them we’re not giving up!

Even if you’ve done so already, please keep contacting your cinemas and tell them how the lack of subtitles makes you feel. Ask for a meeting with the manager to see if they can help.

We all need to work together and we will come to a solution!