Open captioning will now be available during select showtimes at 240 AMC theatres in more than 100 U.S. markets, the company announced in a press release Friday.
"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," said Elizabeth Frank, executive vice president of worldwide programming and chief content officer of AMC. "Initial consumer response has been very positive, and we anticipate strong demand with growing awareness of open caption showtimes at AMC."
Markets with at least two AMC theaters will offer some open caption showtimes for every newly-released film each week, according to the press release.
The company said that the "vast majority" of its movies will continue to have closed captioning.
"Eternals," the newest Marvel movie set to come out in November, stars Deaf actress Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, the fastest superhero in the comics. "The Walking Dead" alum made headlines after she criticized the lack of accessibility in the movie theaters in a New York Times interview last month.
"We're an afterthought in movie theaters, and that needs to change," she told the Times. "You have to use a special closed-captioning device to watch subtitling in a theater, and it's a headache."
In the interview, she also noted how representation in Hollywood is important. Despite the fact that one in four Americans is living with a disability, according to a 2016 study from the Ruderman Family Foundation, the portrayal and casting of disabled actors on the TV screen are few and far between.
A day before AMC made the official announcement, the company's CEO broke the news on Twitter.
"@AMCTheatres permanently will offer some Open Caption showtimes each week," Adam Aron tweeted on Thursday. "And right in time for Eternals from @Disney."
I am proud to announce that @AMCTheatres permanently will offer some Open Caption showtimes each week. Well marked on our web site and mobile app. A real advance for those with hearing difficulties or where English is a second language. And right in time for Eternals from @Disney pic.twitter.com/Ydn3dHFzuX
— Adam Aron (@CEOAdam) October 13, 2021
The CEO's tweet was welcomed by some on Twitter, while others were cautiously optimistic.
Yesterday we watched #VenomLetThereBeCarnage #Venom2 and we were struggling to understand what venom was saying most of the times!!Was literally hoping #AMCSqueeze should show subtitles . You heard us !! Thank you for listening without asking! @elonmusk would have done the same
— kehna Kya chahte ho (@kehnakychahteho) October 13, 2021
Accessibility for the masses! WTG @CEOAdam & #amc. As a Sign Language Interpreter many of my Deaf friends don't go to theaters bc of inaccessibility or the "accommodations" aren't adequate. Please make sure the captioned showtimes are not limited to weird, inconvenient times.
— Heather LoBrutto (@HeatherLoBrutt1) October 13, 2021