Cinemark Hears: Creates Two Accessible Multiplexes

by John Waldo

Without fanfare — in fact, with almost no notice — Cinemark/Century theaters have made that company’s two Washington movie multiplexes completely accessible to people with hearing loss. Patrons with hearing loss such that they need captions to understand the dialog have eight different captioned movies to choose from at the Century Federal Way complex in Federal Way, and ten different captioned movies at the Century Olympia complex in that city’s Capital Mall.

Cinemark, which operates under the Century brand name in Washington, is using relatively new closed-captioning display devices known as CaptiView. Viewers pick up a portable display unit mounted on a flexible gooseneck that sits in the theater-seat cup-holder. The dialogue and some additional aural information like “door slamming” is transmitted wirelessly, and displayed three lines at a time. A privacy screen minimizes the distraction to other viewers.

The captioning is available for every showing of every movie for which captions have been prepared. At theFederal Way complex, those movies include two brand-new releases, “Green Hornet” and “The Dilemma,” and one 3-D movie, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” Additional captioned movies at the Federal Way comples are “Little Fockers,” “The Fighter,” “Black Swan,” “Tangled” and “Country Strong.” All of those movies are also available with captions at the Olympia complex, which is also showing “True Grit” and “Tron:Legacy” (2-D version) with captions.

Century has converted all of the theaters at both of those complexes to show movies using digital projection, in which film is replaced by digital information. The theaters do not caption the movies — that is done under contract with the movie studios by a company affiliated with WGBH public television in Boston. The vast majority of major-studio movies are equipped with captions, but prior to digital conversion, very few theaters were equipped to display the captions

CaptiView has some advantages over both open captioning, in which the captions are visible to everyone in the audience and which hearing patrons sometimes claim is distracting, and over Rear Window Captioning, where captions are displayed in mirror image on a reader-board at the back of the theater and viewed to a reflector. Other patrons can’t block the captions by standing up at the wrong time. Moreover, a central server can make all of the movies in a multi-screen theater accessible without the need for separate equipment in each individual auditorium.

CaptiView has raised some concerns, though, because using it does require patrons to glance away from the screen while reading the captions. Would that cause eyestrain and discomfort over the course of a full-length movie? No one really knows for certain, because the equipment has not been in wide use — in fact, it appears that the Washington complexes may be the first in the nation to be equipped to show in captioned form all movies for which captions have been prepared.

Cinemark has been oddly quiet about this accomplishment. It has not advertised the availabilty of captions in its print advertising. Nor is the information readily available on line. If one goes to the general “Fandango” movie-time site, no captioning information is shown. One must either begin at the proprietary Cinemark website, or click on the theater name on the Fandango site to get to the page that mentions the captions. Unfortunately, that arrangement appears to prevent the Captionfish website, which tries to provide a full directory of captioned movies, from getting the information.

By making all captioned movies accessible in captioned form, Cinemark has provided exactly what Wash-CAP asked for in the lawsuit filed in early 2009 against Cinemark and five other defendants. While the case continues against the others, we are hopeful that some or all of those theaters will follow Cinemark’s lead, and make their movies accessible to people with hearing loss.

7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by pearltf1 on January 18, 2011 at 5:18 am

    It’s about time, now NYC has to get on the ball with captioning their theatres.

    Reply

  2. This is great news.

    Reply

  3. […] Cinemark Hears: Creates Two Accessible Multiplexes (via Caption THIS!) There is a great article by John Waldo that is well worth the read it over at Bill Graham’s Caption THIS! blog. In it is good news regarding Cinemark cinemas in the USA following a lawsuit against them, and it looks like Australia is not the only country using Captiview. by John Waldo Without fanfare — in fact, with almost no notice – Cinemark/Century theaters have made that company’s two Washington movie multiplexes completely accessible to people with hearing loss. Patrons with hearing loss such that they need captions to understand the dialog have eight different captioned movies to choose from at the Century Federal Way complex in Federal Way, and ten different captioned movies at the Century Olympia comple … Read More […]

    Reply

  4. Excellent!! This news, just rec’d by me 1-23-11, proves that the public comments by NATO and AMC theater representatives to the Dept. of Justice are false, inaccurate, misleading and essentially lies. They made specific claims about needing 2 more years before having their proprietary Closed Caption system. 20 years ago they didn’t know the difference between Open captions, closed captions, subtitles, and film credits.

    If anyone reads this before end of day 1-24-11 – go ahead and send duplicate copies of this article and URL to the Dept. of Justice website comment page on Movie Captions:
    http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=DOJ-CRT-2010-0007-0001

    Reply

  5. […] of individuals and all major deaf and hard-of-hearing consumer organizations. As the case brewed, Cinemark quietly began to make its theaters in the Seattle area more accessible and, facing a similar lawsuit, Regal Cinemas pledged to provide the necessary equipment for […]

    Reply

  6. Posted by kenneth on January 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    went to see the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last night at a Marcus Theatre in Madison, WI. They use the new Captiview [CV] closed captioning technology, and it was a much better experience, in our opinion, than the other options currently available to deaf patrons. Here’s a press release from Marcus from October announcing the installation of Captiview in all their locations. The major benefit over open captions is that instead of running a very limited number of open caption films made available by the production studios at very limited times on a weekly basis, one can go into any marcus theatre for a captioned showing at any time of day, any day of the week. Unfortunately, this technology is not yet widespread. We need to promote [and insist] that all the major and minor movie chains install this technology system-wide. It is as close as we can get to the functional equivalence of anytime, anywhere access to first-run movies int he theatres.

    Reply

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