Linda Richards: What happened at Odeon’s free subtitled screening of Star Wars

Posted on January 3, 2018

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Limping Chicken’s petition for cinema multiplexes to each dedicate one screen to subtitles now has over 23,000 signatures. Please sign the petition here.

After the furore about the failure of Brighton’s Odeon cinema to show the subtitled film it had advertised, we were pleased that Leicester Square’s Odeon cinema offered complimentary tickets to a free subtitled screening of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ on 28th December.

To be more accurate, after the incident had been reported on The Limping Chicken, Karen Jackson wrote in to say her friend and General Manager, Tess Waller, of the Odeon in Leicester Square had offered her charity ‘Chloe and Sophie’s Special Ears Fund’ some free tickets.  After reading Charlie Swinbourne’s article, Karen extended the offer to members of the Deaf Community and their families.

This was a great offer and I tried to contact as many Deaf people as I could. In the end, about 100 people of all ages came along.  It was a great event. The tickets were free but I asked people to make a donation to Karen’s charity as we wouldn’t have known about this nor got in without her invitation.  So what happened?

Well, the film started and after about two minutes was stopped!  What?!!  What’s happening?  Well, one of the audio tracks wasn’t in sync so the film had to be stopped and restarted.  I did say we didn’t need the sound as we had the subtitles but, hey, let’s be inclusive towards our hearing friends!

And then we sat to watch 2.5 hours of Star Wars!

Here are some of the notable points:

1): These events are social events.  Deaf people do like meeting up and sharing the same experiences.
2): Unfortunately, the cinema was bloody freezing (but no-one left!)
3): The collection bucket raised £122.26 for Karen’s charity.  (I jokingly offered to do a collection to pay the cinema’s heating bill!)
4): The kids loved it!
5): The adults loved it too!  (Despite the cold!)
6): A number of people – children and adults – had never seen a subtitled film so this was a great introduction to see what it was like.
7): To all cinemas – Treat us right by having regular guaranteed subtitled screenings at decent slots and times and you’ll get loyal patrons.
8):  People came from Kent, Surrey, Hertfordshire, Sussex, as well as London to see this screening.  ‘Have subtitles, will travel!’
9): A friend got home and looked up subtitled screenings including telling me about not one, but two screenings at my local on Sunday!
10): The Odeon in Leicester Square will close in January 2018 for an eight month refurbishment.  Wouldn’t it be great if it reopened with a subtitled film and the entire cinema (currently 1679 seats) was filled with Deaf children and adults and their families and friends?  Hint, hint!

May the force be with you – Odeon – as you look at how you can improve the experience for all of us!

Thank you to Tess at Odeon Leicester Square for making the offer, to Karen for extending the offer to others and, a special hug to everyone who donated to Karen’s charity.

Here’s a photo of Karen with two of her friends, Bailey and Nick.  Wish I’d taken more photos!

It was lovely to see so many families there. That’s what makes Christmas – a family outing!

And finally…Spoiler alert!  Watch for the moment in the film when Chewbacca looks like he’s turned vegetarian or even vegan!

Linda Richards, member of the Deaf Community, is best known for her television, training, interpreting and translation work. Also known for making a mean banana cake for her friends! 

The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne. 

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