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TOPIC: Captioned Films

Captioned Films 19 Apr 2001 11:27 #19668

  • dr
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I know they're working captioned films for the hearing and hard of hearing but how will this run in the theaters? Many of the regular patrons are tuned off by captions and would be distracted by them. Would we have to go to special showings and give up a night of regular sales? How do think it would work?
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Re: Captioned Films 19 Apr 2001 14:18 #19669

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We were approached by a patron who wished us to install a Rear Window DVS system for the theatre. Rear Window is a system that runs the subtitles backwards on the rear wall and the patron views them with a mirror. DVS is a descriptive visual system where the movie is described to a blind person on a Walkman type system.

We contacted the Chapin Cutler (Owner) of Boston Light and Sound to inquire about the Rear Window and DVS system. He turned me over to Robert Cejka, who is the director of Rear Window for Boston Light and Sound. From him I got the costs.

A typical Rear Window set up for a multiplex style theatre consists of
the following:

1- data wall (3 inch character) $4,100.00
15 - reflectors ($75.00 each)
1- IR transmitter $900.00
15- IR headsets ($65.00 each)
1- system license $2,500.00 for 35 mm houses and more for IMAX
1- modified DTS-6D can be purchased through theatre's local dealer or
Boston Light & Sound (usually $6,300.00 or so depending on dealer)
1- freight around $400.00 or so depending on speed of delivery and
1- installation approx. $1,500.00 to run wires for power to the board
and transmitter and data wires to the board and transmitter to the DTS
unit. A certified projection technician will also be needed to install
the DTS unit and set the offset.

For current titles and movies in the works, please visit

Why would there be a system license fee? I would think that in an effort to
reach as many deaf and blind people as possible that there would be no fee
and that there would be financial help from some government agency or
another. The rest of the prices are in line with industry standards. Well, I
have heard of LED signs for less, but then I have heard of higher prices as

Since when has there been a need for a certified technician to install a DTS
unit? When I was a projection monkey at a UA 12-plex, we installed them
ourselves all the time. That was the best thing that could be said about the
DTS unit is that the projectionist could install it. We did and still do
need the technician to install Dolby Digital and SDDS.

How about Market Penetration? Is this information available for every title?
If not, what studios support it with all their new titles? How is the
penetration in the alternative cinema or art cinema market? Is there a time
delay in the availability of the DTS discs for Rear Window vs. the release
dates for the prints?

WGBH has a co-patent with someone who helped create the Rear Window system. The
official line item is called "system design, license and acquisition fee". WGBH
sends most of the fee to the co-creator. The LED board was at one time twice as
much from current selling price as we used a different sign company. What makes
the Rear Window led data wall so unique is the software written specifically for
it that enables it to read the incoming data and create reversed fonts to be
read at the reflectors viewing point. I have referred your other questions
about market penetration/ titles etc. To WGBH personnel who should be
contacting you shortly to answer those items. If there is a
particular title that you wish to have captioned, WGBH can work out a price to
have it done for you. If you need anything else, please
feel free to contact me.

(I also received the following communication from WGBH in Boston.)

Dear Mr. Price:

Robert Cejka at Boston Light & Sound asked me to drop you a quick note of introduction. I understand you had some questions with regard to Motion Picture Access (MoPix), equipped locations and accessible films.

I manage the MoPix project for WGBH and would be happy to answer any questions or provide you with additional information. Please don't hesitate to contact me at the numbers/e-mail below.

Best regards,

Next we went to the web site that lists all of the captioned films for the Rear Window and DVS systems. It can be found at

Previously captioned and described movies:
· The Jackal
· Titanic
· The Mask of Zorro
· 8mm
· Entrapment
· Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace
· Big Daddy
· Random Hearts
· Toy Story 2
· The Green Mile
· Stuart Little
· Hanging Up
· Mission to Mars
· The Cider House Rules
· 28 Days
· Dinosaur
· Gone in 60 Seconds
· The Patriot
· Hollow Man
· The Contender
· Charlie's Angels
Now of this list of 21 titles which are listed on that website, we have played exactly one! Last year we played 135 titles and none of the rest of them were captioned. The only reason we played The Cider House Rules is that it received an Academy Award nomination and we figured that not enough people had seen the film and they might like a chance to see it now that it got nominated. We were right and it did quite well for us.

So at the present time we cannot see spending $15,000 or any amount of money to install a system that we may use once per year. Even if a system was given to us and we aggressively sought out titles that were captioned, we wouldn't find any titles that fit out type of films that we present. The smaller independent distributors can't afford to have the films captioned. Nor can we afford to pay WGBH to caption any of our titles. Since we don't own any films and we never receive them until the night before we present them to the public, we would never be in a position to have a film captioned.

However, all is not lost. If enough interest were indicated to us, we can look into acquiring Tripod captioned films to run during one weekday that could become known. We need to find out the costs and lead times associated with the Tripod Captioned Films. Let's say we did this on a Tuesday, which is our bargain day. The general public could be told that this is the price one pays to have a discounted film, and the Deaf community could always know that we would have at least one Tripod Film on a Tuesday and at a discount.

Tripod is the open caption system. They are proposing that we run two films with the Tripod system next month. The Tripod terms are 1/3 to the film company, 1/3 to the theatre and 1/3 to Tripod. We are still reviewing the idea.

We already play the most foreign language films in the county. So most deaf people can come and see those because they are always subtitled. I know that doesn't help when you would like to see the latest Hollywood Blockbuster, but it's something. The blind community is going to have a much more difficult time with motion pictures. Until there is a universal system in place for both television and the cinema, I don't think many people will invest in anything.
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Re: Captioned Films 20 Apr 2001 12:41 #19670

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Hey Large, Thanks for all your information! I'm sure it will open up a lot of eyes.
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