While A Quiet Place 2 has been praised for its representation of deafness, a deaf children’s charity has called out the lack of subtitled screenings across the UK.
The John Krasinksi film stars deaf actress Millicent Simmonds, shows her character Regan’s deafness as a major strength, and sees almost all the characters communicating in sign language – but deaf fans have still been unable to watch and enjoy the film due to the lack of subtitled screenings.
In the UK, there are 11million deaf or hard of hearing people.
However, according to a report by the National Deaf Children’s Society, just 41% of UK cinemas offered subtitled screenings during the show’s opening week. Around half were before 6pm, with just a handful at the weekend.
Beccy Forrow, Campaign Lead at the National Deaf Children’s Society, explained: ‘Deaf people are just as entitled to enjoy the thrill of the cinema as hearing people, but they’re still not being provided for.
‘Half of cinemas didn’t provide any subtitled showings and those that did were unwilling to offer them at convenient times. It’s a sad yet familiar story for millions of deaf people across the UK, where subtitles are now a holy grail instead of something they can rely on.
‘Cinemas have no doubt struggled during the pandemic, but increasing the number of subtitled showings could actually attract a brand new group of customers.
‘There are millions of deaf cinema fans out there, so it’s time that the industry started offering the same big screen experience to everyone.’
Young deaf people have also spoken out on the disappointing figures, with Kara Gillespie, 15, saying: ‘A Quiet Place was the first movie I ever watched that has made me proud to be deaf. The second one was fantastic too, but I was really disappointed and frustrated when it didn’t have subtitles.
‘It’s incredibly important that deaf people are shown to the world in movies and by doing so, deafness will be more normalised. To enjoy this film though, lots of deaf people like me will need subtitles.
‘It’s always so difficult to find subtitled screenings, so we need cinemas to help us out and offer more of them. Otherwise, we risk being left out of trips to the cinema and missing out on the experience altogether, which just isn’t fair at all.’
Holly Parker, 19, is a profoundly deaf university student. She added: ‘It’s extremely disappointing, especially as you’d expect that they would know the huge positive impact this film could have on deaf people.
‘When I went to the screening of the first A Quiet Place, it had been labelled as a subtitled screening. Even though there are very few spoken lines, we were absolutely shocked and disappointed to see halfway through the film that the screening in fact didn’t have any subtitles.
‘We had been extremely excited to see it because of the deaf representation and to be disappointed like that was awful.
‘I’m extremely let down and angry to see that the same sort of thing is happening again for the sequel. Imagine how much more disappointed all those kids will be when they can’t even watch it.’
A spokesperson for Cinema UK told Metro.co.uk of subtitled screenings across the UK: ‘While we don’t have an exact figure, we know that during each of the first two weeks of release of A Quiet Place: Part II there will have been over 500 subtitled screenings of at UK cinemas.
‘Recognising that a deaf actor has one of the lead roles, several of the larger chains have made a particular effort to provide such accessible shows, something they will continue to do while also balancing the needs of deaf audiences who want to see other upcoming titles.
‘There is no lack of commitment from UK cinema operators to provide subtitled screenings.
‘But given the financial hit taken by the sector over the last year – over £2billion – and the continued challenges of operating under capacity limits and social distancing, the reality is that building back to where we were on such shows and remaining economically viable will take some time. This will be particularly so if those restrictions remain beyond 21 June.
‘We would always say though that if any cinema is made aware of local demand for a subtitled screening, they will do what they can, so deaf audience members are absolutely encouraged to contact their neighbourhood venue and ask.’
Cinema UK added that the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on subtitled screenings.
‘Before the Covid pandemic hit in early 2020, on average there were around 1,500 subtitled screenings per week across the country. This represents significant growth over a number of years and certainly puts the UK at the forefront of such offerings globally,’ they said.
‘But we recognised that this was fewer than many deaf and hard of hearing customers would like and were looking at ways of improving that position, both through the delivery of more subtitled screenings at a wider range of times and through the development of so-called “closed caption” technology, whereby subtitles are delivered not on the screen but through personal devices such that only the individual who needs them can see them.
‘The reason why that latter feature is important – and relevant to the initial question – is that all of the evidence we have suggests that the wider audience does not like subtitled screenings, as a result of which attendances for such shows tend to be significantly lower than a comparable non-subtitled screening.’
‘Development of those technologies, which we have supported financially through the launch of our Technology Challenge Fund had unfortunately to be put on hold due to Covid but we very much hope to return to this as soon as we can.’
A Quiet Place is in cinemas now.
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