Subtitled & Open Caption Screenings

What are Subtitled & Open Captioned Screenings

In this context, the terms ‘subtitled’ and ‘open captioned’ are essentially interchangeable, they provide a transcription of the dialogue from the film and are displayed at the bottom of the cinema screen. The subtitles also include non-dialogue audio such as "(sighs)" or "(door creaks)" which are sometimes referred to as descriptive subtitles/captions of the audio from a film. 

Nowadays all popular cinema releases will include an open caption version of the film. 

Find subtitled screenings using our cinema information tool

Originally designed for those with hearing loss, open caption screenings can benefit a range of people, including people who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing, people with English as a second language, or even as a reading development aid. 

It's worth noting that the term subtitled screenings can also refer to foreign language film screenings which may only include captions for the dialogue spoken on screen.

How to Find Subtitled / Open Captioned Showtimes

These showtimes will typically be labeled as Captioned Screenings, Open Captioned, OC, ST, or Subtitled on cinema websites.  

Additionally, they may also use the logos below.

Open Captions iconSubtitled icon

When browsing cinemas showtimes use the “subtitled” or “open caption” filter tools if available. You can check whether your local cinema does provide subtitled screenings in our Cinema Information Tool

Subtitled or open captioned screenings are not available in every cinema. Some of the reasons for this are set out under Why can’t I find the film in the accessible format I want?

How to find types of Hearing Support at Cinemas

Induction Loop

This is used by hearing aid wearers and encompasses the seats in the cinema screen. It is designed to remove background noise which might otherwise be picked up by the hearing aid. The hearing aid is switched to the ‘T’ setting or loop programme and receives the soundtrack via the loop. No other equipment is needed. Such loops are often placed elsewhere in the venue to aid interaction between staff and hearing-impaired customers such as at ticket and refreshment sales points.

Infrared System

This system ‘bathes’ the cinema audience in infrared light, which transmits the dialogue to special equipment worn by someone with a hearing impairment. There are four main types of listening devices available for use with the infrared system:

1. Infrared neck loops, which the hearing aid wearer puts around their neck and switches their hearing aid to the ‘T’ setting or loop programme. The neck loop looks like a necklace; it has an infrared receiver which needs to be facing the screen.

2. Infrared headsets may be used by those who are hard of hearing but don't use a hearing aid. They have an infrared receiver around the neck that needs to be facing the screen. The headset looks like an upside-down pair of headphones and usually has in-ear headphones.

3. Infrared receivers which can be used by people with or without hearing aids and this depends on what equipment they plug into the socket. The receiver has a headphone socket into which either headphones, a neck loop or ear hooks can be plugged. These work in a similar way to the infrared headsets and neck loops described above.

4. Infrared headphones which can be used by people without hearing aids. Hearing aid wearers may be able to wear the headphones; however some hearing aids may experience interference causing a whistling sound. They are worn over the ears, and/or over the hearing aid; they have an infrared receiver.

Not all cinemas will have this technology, use our cinema checker tool to see what is available at your local cinemas

The logos shown below may be included to show what hearing support is available at the chosen cinema.

Hearing Loop icon

You can check whether your cinema does provide subtitled or open captioned screenings in our Cinema Information Tool

Subtitled or open captioned screenings are not available in every cinema. Some of the reasons for this are set out under Why can’t I find the film in the accessible format I want?

Technology Development & WatchWord

Every week there are now more than 1,500 Subtitled screenings in UK cinemas, but offering more open captioned screenings, or subtitles screenings at peak times is not always possible. 

WatchWord have developed smart glasses that display captions discreetly on the glasses, meaning users can sit beside friends and family who may not require captions, and watch any film together.

Find out more about WatchWord’s work by visiting their website.

Open captions are offered at most cinemas to help hard-of-hearing or deaf audiences enjoy the film, but there is also a wide range of hearing support alternatives which customers with a hearing impairment might use in order to enhance their experience. 

Use our Cinema Information Tool to find your local cinema and browse their hearing support options.