Audio description is increasingly available for first-run movies, and more and more movie theaters are being built or renovated with the necessary equipment to offer the description track to patrons. This page will point you to more information about the process, the movies, and the theaters.
Listen to a 2½-minute audio on
Audio Description in Movies,
or listen to the full 24-minute on
Audio Description: Where and How?
Read a Review of a
Movie Fan's First Experience
with Audio Description
(Posted Sep 11, 2013)
In movie theaters, these audio description tracks can be played on the following systems:
MoPix and DTS Access use the same DVS Theatrical "player" for description and captioning, but the MoPix system offers closed captioning via a system called Rear Window® Captioning (RWC), while the DTS Access system offers open captioning on-screen via a special projector. RWC is marked exclusively by Boston Light and Sound (which is also a dealer for the DVS Theatrical system, DTS projector, and Fidelio). MoPix is fully compatible with other digital cinema equipment. The Fidelio system is digital only. A separate Doremi product, CaptiView, is used for closed captioning.
Each month, more and more movie theaters install one of these systems, making the audio description available to people who need it. And now new equipment has come along to handle description for digital cinema. With digital, everything (movie, multiple sound tracks, captioning) are all delivered in something called the Digital Cinema Package (DCP), which any company can access through common standards, so the competition is increasing and the cost of installation is decreasing. (See Regal announcement re their plans for digital to be completed by YE 2012 and the Cinemark announcement. However, also read "Movie Theaters Strongly Oppose Accessibility Bills" (May 2013)!)
to WGBH Media Access:
Over 1100 MoPix titles in over 800 accessible theaters!
So who decides what films will be described? WGBH Media Access tells us that "All major studios now caption and describe all wide released features and nearly all independent studios caption all releases." Not all of that description makes it to DVD, however; but some studios like Sony, Disney, and Universal are doing it with almost all of their releases since 2010. It's tough to get the smaller, independent studios to fund description of either movies or DVDs. Currently a few major studios don't provide DVD description either: Anchor Bay Entertainment / Weinstein Co, Lionsgate / New Line Cinema, Millennium Entertainment, Miramax FIlms, and the most important one, Warner Bros. Write them!
So what happens when a described movie ends its run and is released on DVD? Historically, very few described DVDs were released, but that changed dramatically starting in late 2009. Read more about this and how to order DVDs on our DVDs page.
When you pay for your movie ticket, ask
MovieReading (Solo-Dx): An Alternative to Theater-Provided Equipment November 2013
A new version of an i-Device app called MovieReading (originally written just for captioning) is now offering select audio description tracks (called Solo-DX) for movies. First, download the free MovieReading app onto your smart device. Once the app is open, go to the Market tab and download the free description track for your chosen movie. You then go to a movie theater, rent a DVD, or stream online content, and start using the app! The MovieReading app syncs the description track with audio cues in the video and delivers the description to the user via earphones. Currently i-Devices like the iPhone and iPad running iOS 6 or higher are supported, but an Android app is in development. Movie AD tracks are very limited at the moment, so it will be awhile before you have lots of options. The first one available is Philomena. Read more about Solo-Dx on MovieReading (PDF). You can also visit the Solo-Dx website for more information.
The following listings pertain primarily to the USA and Canada.
The following statistics are primarily from WGBH Media Access, the largest supplier of captioning and description (which they call DVS®, for Descriptive Video Service), though we keep our own count of AD on DVD:
Historical Information Only
NOTE: The red part is not a direct subset of the described first-run movies each year
as many DVDs released with description are from the previous year or are special
packagings (e.g., complete series) of previously released films
|Year||Captioned||Audio Described||AD on