This weekend marks a milestone in UK cinema – the release of the first ever 3D movie that is accessible to people with hearing or sight loss.
Disney’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ has been on release with subtitles on the 2D version and with audio description (narration) since early November, when the premiere set a new Guinness world record as the largest ever 3D screening.
Now, as part of The Walt Disney Company’s ongoing commitment to provide entertainment to as broad an audience as possible, and thanks to new technology which enables subtitles to sit on a 3D film, ‘A Christmas Carol’ becomes the first movie in the UK to become truly accessible in 3D to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Disney’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ has taken £9.5m at the UK box office, with 79% of takings coming from the 3D screens. Clearly there is huge audience demand for the 3D experience. Only now has the technology developed to a stage where subtitles can be overlaid on a 3D image, so that people with hearing loss can enjoy the experience of a 3D film. The problem previously has always been where to place subtitles in the 3D space – in front? the middle? the back? Placed incorrectly, subtitles can cause nausea or headache.
Disney Studio’s Technical Executive Director, Saul Mahoney, said: “Dickens’ story was an innovative, socially responsible tale – a celebration of traditional Christmas-time values – family, sharing and charity. The Walt Disney Company believes in the same values, and has worked with the UK film industry and charities representing people with hearing or sight loss, to ensure that the 3D cinema experience can be enjoyed by as many people as possible.”
Mahoney continues, “Disney recognises the fact that as we age, loss of some hearing or sight is inevitable. Access to film via subtitles and audio description is something that we all may appreciate, eventually. So we are working to ensure that every future Disney film is accessible to people with hearing or sight loss.”
According to RNID, there are 9 million deaf or hard of hearing people in the UK. Roger Wicks, Director of Research and Policy, RNID, commented: “RNID welcomes Disney’s announcement that ‘A Christmas Carol’ will be shown with 3D subtitles for the first time in UK cinema history. This latest news is a positive development for the nine million deaf or hard of hearing people in the UK, and will provide real choice for cinema goers.”
Ian Noon from the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) goes on to say “The National Deaf Children’s Society believes that every deaf child has the right to the same opportunities as their hearing friends, and this includes being able to enjoy films at the cinema with subtitles. It is great news that deaf children and young people will now be able to enjoy 3D films with subtitles and we thank all those involved for this achievement.”
The Walt Disney Company UK is a member of the UK film industry’s ‘Disability Working Group’. The group aims to ensure that people with hearing or sight loss can enjoy the cinema experience. Since 2000 it has worked to ensure that the UK leads the world in ‘accessible’ cinema. Most major cinemas now have facilities to screen the latest films with subtitles and audio description (narration) for people with hearing or sight loss. Most popular films are available with these ‘access’ features and ‘accessible’ shows are now a regular feature in cinemas nationwide.
Phil Clapp, CEO of the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association and Chair of the Disability Working Group, commented: “I am absolutely delighted by the news that hearing-impaired cinema-goers across the UK will soon have the opportunity to experience ‘A Christmas Carol’ in 3D with subtitles. The UK cinema has, I think, a justifiable reputation as the world-leader in the provision of accessible cinema to those with hearing or sight difficulties. Given the importance we all attach to digital 3D cinema going forward, this new development could not be more timely or welcome. I would like to thank all at Disney for their hard work in making this happen. “
Please check with local cinemas for more details or visit
for full listings of all subtitled shows.
Quotes from the public applauding subtitling of films:
I served in Iraq, came home last year with permanent damage to my hearing … I can still enjoy films with a little assistance … subtitles. I only go to the cinema now if the film is subtitled.
My daughter and I are both deaf, subtitled cinema has been fantastic for us both and we are now able to enjoy going to the cinema. Before we always waited for the film to come out on DVD. We both really look forward to going to the cinema. We find subtitled cinema a fantastic opportunity which we both really enjoy and we are now able to experience cinema with other family members as well, which is something that we have never done before.
I gave up attending films because I was so, so frustrated not being able to understand what the stories were about. Now I can now enjoy films on an equal par with hearing people. I am able to share my passionate conversation with my work colleagues and I even recommend films they should go and see.
Click here to read more quotes from people with hearing or sight loss who have discovered – or rediscovered – the joys of cinema-going, thanks to subtitles and audio description:
Disney’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ is on general release, certificate PG (contains mild threat, scary scenes and mild language)
Further information: Charlotte Tudor, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, UK
Tel: 020 8222 1221
Images and production notes are available from http://www.image.net
NOTES TO EDITORS
DISNEY’S ‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’
Directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, The Polar Express, Beowulf) and starring Jim Carrey, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Gary Oldman, Disney’s A Christmas Carol captures the fantastical essence of the classic Dickens tale in a groundbreaking 3-D motion picture event. Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) begins the Christmas holiday with his usual miserly contempt, barking at his faithful clerk (Gary Oldman) and his cheery nephew (Colin Firth).
YOUR LOCAL CINEMA .com http://www.yourlocalcinema.com
Your Local Cinema.com is the cinema industry-sponsored listings and information service for ‘accessible’ cinema. Launched in 2001 it serves to create nationwide awareness of – and build audiences for – subtitled and audio described films and shows for people with hearing or sight loss.
It provides an accessible website (including a speech-enabled section), listing every subtitled or audio described cinema show in the UK, listed by film or location. The website also presents the latest film trailers with subtitles, and many audio described film clips.
The service publishes an informative email newsletter directly to many thousands of interested parties weekly, and runs a 24/7 telephone call centre to inform people of accessible shows in their area.
Your Local Cinema .com is a member of the film industry’s ‘Disability Working Group’. This group of cinema companies, film distributors, technology companies and groups representing disabled people meet regularly with the aim to ensure that people with a physical or sensory impairment can enjoy the cinema experience.
In 2009 the Your Local Cinema .com service won two high profile national awards, voted for by the public: the Daily Mail ‘People’s Choice’ Enterprise Award, and the British Telecom ‘BT Remote Workers’ Award. The service was also a finalist in the ‘Best Arts Project’ category of the National Lottery Awards.
CINEMA EXHIBITORS’ ASSOCIATION (CEA) – http://www.cinemauk.org.uk
The CEA is the trade association for UK cinema exhibition. It represents the interests of around 90 per cent of UK cinema operators by number and market share, with membership ranging from single screen/owner managed sites to the largest circuit and multiplex operators.
About The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with five business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, interactive media and consumer products. Disney is a Dow 30 company with revenues of nearly $38 billion in its most recent fiscal year.
About cinema subtitles & audio description.
“Have you ever tried to lip-read a masked super hero or villain? Or an animated rat, fish, car or robot? Without subtitles we just watch the pictures and guess the story”
“I have lost my sight. You think I can’t enjoy the cinema? Imagine the scariest film you know, only SCARIER!”
Nowadays thousands of film fans simply won’t bother to catch a film unless it’s ‘accessible’ to them. Thankfully, the UK leads the world in accessible cinema.
Cinema subtitles/captions are displayed along the bottom of the cinema screen. They include the spoken text as well as descriptions of sounds such as ‘door creaks’, ‘footsteps approaching’, ‘gunshot’ etc.
Cinema audio description is a recorded narration which explains – in gaps in the dialogue – what’s happening on screen. It’s delivered through wireless headphones – only the wearer hears the audio description soundtrack. One blind cinema-goer has likened the experience to listening to a Harry Potter audio book, but with all the actors voicing their own parts, and the addition of the film soundtrack – in fabulous surround sound.
“It’s the accessible cinema experience: SEE the dialogue! HEAR the action!”
The UK leads the world in ‘accessible’ cinema, for people with hearing or sight loss. Most cinemas now have subtitle facilities, including all digital-equipped cinemas, and more than 300 cinemas have audio description facilities.
UK distributors regularly release titles with English language subtitles and audio description. Almost all of the top 100 titles of last year were available.
Nationwide there are more than 500 English language subtitled shows weekly – and many thousands of audio described shows. (Audio description is delivered through personal headphones and does not require separate ‘special’ shows).
Your Local Cinema .com is a non-profit group sponsored by the UK film industry and would not exist without the input and assistance of the groups below:
UKFC – The UK Film Council
CEA – Cinema Exhibitors’ Association and UK cinemas
FDA – Film Distributors’ Association and UK film distributors
ITFC, DTS, Dolby and more.
Please visit our sponsors: http://www.yourlocalcinema.com/sponsors.html
Interested in part-sponsorship? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org