In other new law news, effective Jan. 1, “anyone that operates a motion picture theater in more than two locations in the state” now has to provide “open captioning during at least two showings per week of each motion picture that is produced with open movie captioning,” according to a Dec. 30, 2015 press release from the Hawaii House of Representatives. The law also requires theaters “to provide an audio description of any motion picture that is produced and offered with audio description.”
This is the result of HB 1272, passed last year and signed into law by Governor David Ige. A wide variety of groups and organizations dedicated to assisting disabled people supported the bill. And why not?
“The law allows equal access to movie theaters for the deaf, blind, deaf/blind and hard-of-hearing communities,” states the House of Representatives press release. “It also brings Hawaii closer to achieving full inclusion for our deaf and blind communities that was first initiated with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The law removes communication barriers and provides equal access to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or have poor vision through reasonable accommodations at movie theaters. It will also help seniors who have trouble hearing, as well as individuals who are learning English as a second language by providing the written dialogue on screen.”
The bill didn’t enjoy unanimous support. Of course, the all-powerful Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)–makings of a fine movie rating system that largely excuses violence but wags its old, bony finger at icky sex–opposed the bill.
“This bill is not necessary at this time,” stated the MPAA’s written testimony, submitted on Mar. 31, 2015. “ It would set a standard in this state, separate and apart from all the other states. No other state has enacted any legislation in this area. The U.S. Department of Justice will soon issue regulations that will set forth a national standard for all–the motion picture distributors, the theatres, as well as the theatre-going community.”
The MPAA also called the bill “unconstitutional” because “it requires and compels speech, in the form of open captioning.” The MPAA even warned of future litigation, saying that “Enacting the bill will likely invite a lawsuit, which will come at great cost to the state.”
Photo of old Fox Theater in Seattle: Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons