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November 1, 2004

Carmike to show films for deaf

From: Mid Columbia Tri City Herald - Mid-Columbia,WA,USA - Nov 1, 2004

By Dori O'Neal Herald staff writer

For Tri-City hearing-impaired movie fans, the entertainment world just got more interesting.

One of Hollywood's latest films, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, will be shown Nov. 14-15 at the Carmike multiplex theater, behind Columbia Center mall, with the movie's dialogue written across the bottom of the screen, like subtitles in a foreign film.

"We had quite a few people in the Tri-City area requesting that we provide this service, so we decided to test it out in November," said Bob Scarborough, a film buyer with Columbus, Ga.-based Carmike Cinemas Inc. "If enough people attend the test screening, then we'll probably continue to offer open caption on the latest films a couple days each month."

Scarborough said Carmike has been offering the service in big-city movie houses for several years. This is the first time for the Tri-Cities, however, and Scarborough said he hopes it won't be the last.

The hearing-impaired movie system is organized by the Insight Cinema organization (www., which negotiates with Hollywood producers to bring open caption films to American cities and towns.

No one could be happier about the open caption news than Gary Wolcott, a k a Mr. Movie, the Herald's movie critic, whose hearing loss has become substantial during the past 10 years.

"I was forced to get hearing aids in order to do something as simple as hear an ordinary conversation," Wolcott said. "I hope this experiment works and that Carmike continues to find ways to reach people with this (hearing) disability."

Wolcott, a rock musician since he was 14, figured it was "40 years of ear-ringing, way-too-loud rock 'n' roll" music that contributed to his hearing loss. He's been reviewing movies for about 15 years.

Ten years ago, he began noticing a definite problem with his hearing. To compensate for the loss while watching a movie, he'd hold both hands behind his ears to better catch the audio waves.

"Cupping my ears is a marvelous way to focus sound, but who wants to spend a whole movie with hands behind their ears?" Wolcott asked.

"I would have to do that or sit in the front two rows and put my head back to see the screen. That was as uncomfortable as sitting in the movie with my hands over my ears.

"Some theaters do provide headphones for the hearing-impaired, but they rarely work properly. And when they did, I felt like some sort of creature from outer space sitting in a theater with headphones on. The (open) captions will be a great asset for all of us who are deaf and love to go to the movies."

Wolcott uses hearing aids these days, but he still advocates that being able to read dialogue as well as see the movie is a blessing for everyone who has trouble hearing the words.

© 2004 Tri-City Herald, Associated Press & Other Wire Services