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Lack of subtitles stops deaf people seeing first deaf superhero

Published Date: 19 Nov 2021

• Half of UK cinemas did not screen The Eternals with subtitles during its opening week.
• Not a single UK cinema showed the film with subtitles after 6pm on the Friday or Saturday of its opening weekend.
• The National Deaf Children’s Society said: “Deaf young people are being robbed of a significant moment in cinema.”
• The charity is calling on cinema companies to increase the number of subtitled films they screen, especially at peak times.

Thousands of deaf young people could miss out on seeing The Eternals because only half of cinemas are showing it with subtitles, the National Deaf Children’s Society says.

The film, which features Makkari, the first deaf superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, premiered in the UK on Friday, 5 November and hit 572 UK cinemas in its opening week. However, only 304 of these had any subtitled showings - just 53%.

The charity also discovered that there wasn’t a single subtitled screening after 6pm on the Friday or Saturday of opening weekend.

As a result, the charity is calling on all cinemas to put on more subtitled screenings of popular films, especially at peak times, when deaf young people and their families can attend.

Around 12 million people (one in six) in the UK are deaf or living with a hearing loss.

Beccy Forrow, Campaign Lead at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said:

“It’s such a crushing irony that deaf young people are being denied the chance to see the first deaf Marvel superhero on screen due to a lack of subtitled screenings. Imagine how it must feel when all your friends are talking about a film, but you haven’t been able to see it yourself.

“It’s easy for cinemas to provide subtitles, but too many have decided not to and it will result in thousands of deaf young people being robbed of a significant moment in cinema.

“Cinemas need to put on more subtitled screenings of popular films, at times when deaf young people can actually go. It’s high time UK cinemas stepped up and gave them the opportunity to see on-screen history being made.”

Deaf young person Daniel Jillings, 15, added:

“I was lucky to watch a captioned screening of The Eternals last weekend and I was overjoyed about the inclusion of a Deaf character who uses sign language.

“However, it’s so hard finding cinemas providing subtitles. This is a problem as Deaf children often miss the films they want to watch with their friends. And with The Eternals having a Deaf character, it’s important for deaf children not to miss out on that. It’s crucial that all cinemas can provide subtitles all the time.”