Find accessible movie sessions online

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The major cinema chains of Hoyts, Event, Village and Reading should have closed captions (CC) and audio description (AD) available at all locations across Australia, with open captions (OC) available at select major and independent locations and AD and CC available at New South Wales and Victorian Palace Cinema locations. Finding movie sessions which have these features can be difficult. Here is our step-by-step guide to finding movie sessions with CC, OC and AD on each major cinema website.

A few things to remember:

  • Cinema websites tend to change on a regular basis compared to other websites.
  • There are existing website accessibility issues for most of the cinemas which prevent screen readers from navigating the content. We note that this is serious. Media Access Australia and consumer organisations have worked in the past with some cinemas to address the issue but with each website update, the progress previously made has disappeared.
  • The closed captions and audio description available are both ‘personal’. This means that they will only be able to be seen or heard by the individual who needs them. Closed captions are visible on a personal device which sits between you and the cinema screen. Audio description is played through headphones. You will need to borrow a closed caption unit or an audio description unit at the ticket counter.

Accessible trailers

If you want to watch an accessible trailer before you decide which movie you want to see, there are a number of options.

Captioned trailers

British access website Your Local Cinema has captioned trailers (although the British term ‘subtitled’ is used on the site) for most of the new releases. The trailers are listed in release date order and are open captioned (that is, they display automatically).

US website Caption Fish also has captioned trailers of new releases and an archive of older movies. In some cases these are YouTube clips and you may have to enable the closed captioning by clicking on the CC/subtitle icon on the menu bar.

Subtitled Trailers has older archive resources that are sorted by release date and are also open captioned.

Audio described trailers and samples

There is far less choice of up-to-date trailers and samples, with the only comprehensive range on the Your Local Cinema website. Please note that these are MP3 samples and have no visual content.

Hoyts Cinemas

  1. On Hoyts’ homepage, scroll down to the menu at the bottom of the page above the footer.
  2. Select either Audio Description or Closed Captions from the list.
  3. Both options take you to an information page on each form of access. After general information on both pages there is a handy link on how to use the closed caption units and audio description units.
  4. Under these links, Hoyts has divided its accessible cinemas into States and Territories. Select your State or Territory.
  5. Once on your State or Territory page, either scroll down the page to find your cinema where you’ll find the accessible sessions listed underneath, or click on your cinema on the left-hand side to jump straight to the top of the session listings.
  6. By clicking on a movie’s time you are taken directly to the ticket purchase section of the website. There is no option for reserving access equipment. This needs to be requested at the box office itself.

Village Cinemas

  1. From Village’s homepage, select the Sessions tab and choose your cinema location from the left menu. Multiple locations can be selected.
  2. A list of movies and session times will appear for your selected cinema locations. If audio description is available, an Audio Description icon will be displayed next to the session time. If captions are available, a Closed Captions icon will be displayed.
  3. Hovering over a session time will bring up a 'Book now' button. Audio Description or Closed Captions will appear in a box above the 'Book now' button if supported.
  4. By clicking 'Book now', you will be directed to a ticket confirmation menu for your chosen session, followed by a payment confirmation page. There is no option for reserving access equipment. This needs to be requested at the box office itself.

Event, Greater Union, Birch Carroll & Coyle Cinemas

  1. On the Event homepage select Cinemas from the left-hand menu.
  2. Select the State or Territory you are in, then the desired cinema.
  3. A list of all movies showing at your chosen cinema will display. You can choose your date to attend from the options just below the Now Showing heading.
  4. By hovering over the session time of each movie the options for both AD and CC are shown for sessions that have access.
  5. By clicking on a movie’s time you are taken directly to the ticket purchase section of the website. There is no option for reserving access equipment. This needs to be requested at the box office itself.

Event Cinemas’ site differs considerably from Hoyts’ and Village’s. You can select your preferred cinema which is saved on the computer you are using, then filter movie sessions by captions or audio description. Here’s how:

  1. From Event’s homepage select the second menu option across the top of the screen, of ‘Where would you like to go’.
  2. Select your state then tick the Event Cinemas locations you would like to visit. By ticking the ‘Remember my selection’ option at the bottom of the box, these cinemas will be the default cinemas shown each time you visit the page from the same computer. Click on Done.
  3. Back to the top of the page and select the menu option on the right of ‘Find times and book’.
  4. Sessions for your chosen cinemas will show. You can also select which day you wish to visit.
  5. Note in the right-hand column the filter options for Audio Description and Closed Captions. Select which access feature you wish to use. The sessions at your chosen cinemas are then filtered to your chosen option.

Reading Cinemas

  1. From Reading’s homepage select Session Times from the top menu.
  2. Select your location from the list given and the movies and all sessions for the week appear in the next column.
  3. Closed captions are represented by the letters ‘CC’ next to the date, or by hovering over the date which will display the text 'Closed Caption Device Available'. All sessions for that movie and date are captioned. At present, Reading Cinemas do not offer audio described sessions.
  4. By clicking on a movie’s time you are taken directly to the ticket purchase section of the website. There is no option for reserving access equipment. This needs to be requested at the box office itself.

Palace Cinemas

As of March 2015, Palace Cinemas in New South Wales and Victoria were offering AD and CC sessions where available. Please contact your local Palace Cinema for more information.

Open captions at select locations

Open captioned sessions (where the captions are displayed for everybody to see like subtitled foreign language movies) are becoming available nationally. The main information resource and place to enquire about open-captioned sessions is Open Captions Australia.

Open Captions Australia organises screenings of open captioned movies across Australia. It is like an open-captioned movie club where it talks to a cinema and arranges for a group of caption users to go to a special open captioned session.

How does open captioning work?

With most cinemas converted to digital cinema operations, the easiest way for a cinema to show open captions is by using the caption file on its Digital Cinema Package (DCP) and instead of sending the caption information to a separate device (like a CaptiView unit or Sony captioning glasses), it uses the projector to display the captions on the screen. The captions are seen by everybody watching that movie session. This allows a cinema to show captions on any of its screens where a digital projector is fitted and where the movie has a caption file.

In some cases there is a special version of the caption file which is designed for open-caption display. This is formatted slightly differently to ensure that the captions are always visible (for example, avoiding a bright white section on the screen that might obscure the captions).  Not all movies have open caption files, but most new releases have ordinary (closed) caption files that can be used for open caption display.


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