I was finally able to speak to someone from Vue Cinemas who took responsibility and explained what the situation was concerning the latest harry Potter film and audiodescription. Whilst she was very friendly and polite, I ended the conversation feeling extremely fed up by the whole situation. There now follows a brief summary, based on my notes from our conversation.
Most cinemas only have one screen that can show films with audiodescription. This screen is usually a small one. Cinemas agree with film distributors which screens will be used for their films and how many times the films will be shown. This means that big budget films at least at the start only get shown on the big screens whilst the small ones are used for films that have already been out for a while.
The technology is only available on the smaller screens and because cinemas are planning to go digital, they don’t want to spend money on more equipment to allow other screens to support audiodescription.
They don’t want to move the equipment from the small screens to the larger ones because of the risk of damaging it. Also, and this wasn’t stated its my own conclusion, they, the cinemas, think that the general public won’t want subtitles being shown on screen and currently audiodescribed and subtitled films come on the same disk.
As I don’t use subtitles I won’t comment on that, accept to say that the subtitle track doesn’t need to be turned on for the audiodescribed track to work.
You may well be wondering when this fantastic era of digital cinema is going to appear and give all us blindys access to audiodescribed films quicker? Well, it might be at the end of 2011, or then again, 2012.
For the time being we’ll still be dependant on the good old cinema to let us have audiodescribed films when they think we should see it rather than when we want to.
Does anyone fancy a date with the law?