"Inclusive programming is core to AMC's strategy," Elizabeth Frank, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Programming & Chief Content Officer for AMC said in the statement. "By adding open captions to the variety of presentation formats we offer, AMC locations become a more welcoming place for millions of Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as many for whom English is not their native language."
Captioned showings began a few weeks ago, and Frank says the initial response was "very positive".
"We anticipate strong demand with growing awareness of open caption showtimes at AMC," Frank said.
Closed captions are already available at a "vast majority" of AMC showings at all locations, according to the company. Closed captions can be played on electronic that the individual customers need to request. Open captions, the kind being added to select weekly showings for all new releases, are shown on the screen and can't be turned off.
Open captions will be available at a mix of both weekday and weekend showings, as well as through the company's theater rental program. Captioned showtimes can be found on the company's site and app. The company said that the number of captioned showtimes is "expected to evolve" based on demand.
Disability rights advocates who have long been working to make theatergoing more accessible have praised AMC's decision.
AMC's announcement comes about a month after Disney's Eternals actress Lauren Ridloff spoke with The New York Times about the treatment of deaf moviegoers. Ridloff, who is deaf herself, will be playing the first deaf superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Ridloff said that deaf moviegoers are treated as "an afterthought in movie theaters". She went on to describe the struggle that many deaf viewers go through.
"You have to use a special closed-captioning device to watch subtitling in a theater, and it's a headache, because most of the time the devices don't work," Ridloff said. "Then you have to go back to the front desk and find somebody to help, and by the time they figure it out that it's not working - that it's not going to be subtitled at all - the movie's halfway done."