Should movie theaters warn viewers about subtitles?

@willfe (149)
United States
March 24, 2007 9:33am CST
Pan's Labyrinth won three academy awards, even though it was produced in Spanish and subtitled. It was well-regarded by moviegoers and critics alike. There are some, though, who think the movie studio intentionally "downplayed" the fact that the movie was subtitled, and "tricked" people into seeing the movie (I've read commentaries that said "if I'd known this was subtitled, I'd have never seen it!"). Through a bit of digging I've found that it's remarkably common practice for movie studios to not bother mentioning subtitles at all, and this raises an interesting question: is it ethical to do that, or should studios and/or movie theaters be *required* to disclose when a movie is filmed/produced in a foreign language? My own inclination is "no" -- it's not hard to do a bit of reading first to find out whether a movie is subtitled or not, but I'm curious to see what others think. Let's have it!
3 people like this
20 responses
• Singapore
24 Mar 07
In Singapore, it is always stated what language the movie is in. If it is a foreign film, then there will be a note to inform that subtitles are provided. In fact, I don't think I have seen any foreign films without subtitles here. I beg to differ though that we should do our own research. It already costs a bomb to catch a movie. Why should we still do additional work to enjoy ourselves? :P
2 people like this
• United States
24 Mar 07
I don't know why people don't like subtitles. I'd rather have some good subtitles than dialogue dubbed in English (or whatever language applies, depending on the area), unless they did a very good job of it and it wasn't noticeable. I certainly don't think subtitles ruin a movie by any means. Maybe if you were watching a very fast-paced action movie or something and you might miss something by having to glance at the bottom of the screen, but other than that, I really don't think they detract from a movie very much at all.
2 people like this
@7nicole1 (1634)
• Canada
24 Mar 07
Oh god yes I believe they should have said something about it being subtitled. If it was me that went to that movie and that happened I would of just freaked right out. Talk about a waste of money and the threatre didnt even tell you guys. I hope the whole lot of you's that hated it complained because that sounds like some people kind of got scammed. I guess before you go to a movie its safer to ask the question if its subtitled or not.
1 person likes this
@willfe (149)
• United States
25 Mar 07
Fair enough, but would you have sat through the whole movie (like the complainer who inspired me to post this in the first place) or would you have just gotten up and walked out? You can almost always get a refund for your tickets if you leave a movie within a few minutes of its start time (usually with no questions asked).
@lukeee (36)
• Brazil
24 Mar 07
since my country doesn't have english as an official language, almost all foreign movies are subtitled, but there's always a warning about it
1 person likes this
@Zalvor (727)
• Turkey
25 Mar 07
It's the same in my country. Almost every movie I watch has subtitles, and it's become a habit; I listen and read at the same time. The problem is, I hate it when there are NO subtitles, because then the movie is dubbed in Turkish. Now, Turkey is one of the best countries when it comes to dubbing, they've been doing it for years. But I was caught unaware in a Harry Potter movie and for me it spoiled everything. Suddenly Alan Rickman's charismatic voice was gone and all I could do was hear a cacophony of premature children's voices. That's when I decided to carefully check, and ask the theater if the film is subtitled or dubbed!
• United States
24 Mar 07
I think it would be a good business practice to let people know before they pay for a ticket although I don't think we should go as far as requiring it. But if it is subtitled, I think it is necessary that the print be readable. I only watched about the first half hour of DaVinci Code because the subtitles were printed in a color that blended into the film and I had no idea what was going on.
1 person likes this
@willfe (149)
• United States
25 Mar 07
Agreed; it ruins a movie if the subtitles aren't legible. Pan's Labyrinth was well-done, though -- the subtitles were done in a sans-serif font, in white, and there weren't any scenes that washed out the subtitling.
@MntlWard (880)
• United States
24 Mar 07
"Oh no! You mean I have to *read*???????? If I wanted to read, I'd go to the library!!!" Should the "R" rating stand for "reading required?" I think it's ridiculous that people would want a "warning" for subtitles.
1 person likes this
@EvanHunter (4028)
• United States
24 Mar 07
I can see where this might upset some people. I myself was an addict to those old corny kungfu movies where they were nothing but subtitles, the movie Hero is 100 times better to me in subtitles than in dubbed in english. But there again if I went to see lord of the rings and it was in subtitles I might have gotten a little pist.
@krebstar5 (1267)
• United States
24 Mar 07
I must hang my head and admit that I did not know that Pan't Labyrinth was subtitled until a few hours before I went to see it. I had already agreed to see it and I thought that it might have been in english just for the simple reason that the other film I had seen from this director was in english. I know, I shouldn't have assumed, but I did eventually do my research to find out more about the movie. I like to read reviews and buzz about films, so that was when I learned that the film was indeed a spanish film. Since I have no problem with wathcing subtitled films (as long as I remember to bring my glasses that it), I was not upset or disappointed when I found out. Also, in the previews I want to say that some of them do mention it being a spanish film. REgardless of that, a good film is a good film no matter what the language. I also think that people should take responsibility for what they see. Trailers are meant to get you to see the movie, not really inform you about it. While I don't think it would be a bad thing for movie theaters to note that the movie is subtitled somewhere when you go to the theater, I don't think they are lying by not telling you. Like I said before, I don't think that it is such a big deal for people to do a little research or reading about a film before they go see it.
1 person likes this
@Signal20 (2281)
• United States
24 Mar 07
I don't mind substitles, but I think they should give a warning. If there's a movie I wanted to see with subtitles, I'd probably just wait for it on DVD so I could watch it at home, so if I miss something while trying to read I can rewind/go back.
1 person likes this
@whyaskq (7532)
• Singapore
24 Mar 07
I would think it cost nothing more to warn viewers about subtitles. Frankly speaking, I prefer movies with subtitles as it helps me to follow the show. If I had known in advance the movies is in some foreign language and there is no subtitles, very likely I will give it a miss, no matter how highly recommended the show is :P However, I would not take the extra effort to search out whether there is subtitles or not!
1 person likes this
@vaivhav (355)
• India
24 Mar 07
It is kind of acceptable for not telling movie goers about the movies subtitle, because many people don't care to see the movie if it is subtitled even though the movie is very good. The movie wont get to deliver its full message and most of the times, we come to know about it through other people.
1 person likes this
@mtvicks (310)
• India
25 Mar 07
yes.. it gonna help
• India
25 Mar 07
Subtitled films sometimes seem to constitute a genre in their own right. They appeal to a certain type of person, and they turn off many others. It is generally assumed that subtitled films are intellectual and worthy: a subtitled film in black and white is even better. But however much we enjoy subtitled films, there is always the sense that we might be missing something. Sometimes this has unintended artistic effect. At least subtitles are better than dubbing, we might think. But infact dubbing is a far better way of simple translating dialogue. While no translation is perfect, dubbing atleast allows a complete translation. Unless dialogue is very sparse, subtitles have to be edited down to give people time to read them and to avoid cluttering up the screen. Nonetheless, most people over the age of 11 seem to prefer them.
@asteriskec (1074)
• Philippines
25 Mar 07
I think the movie studios should mention that. I mean, what are the marketing, public relations and media relations arms of these studios are for if they don't use all the resources to inform the paying public of what they're supposed to expect.
@funrocky (156)
• India
25 Mar 07
I think any thing differnt which is thought provoking is worth a watch.
@mlgb_24 (638)
25 Mar 07
i think they should, as sometimes it is hard to concentrate watching and reading the lines at the same time.
• United States
25 Mar 07
In this day and age, we have way too many avenues to find information. Like you said, with a little bit of reading, you could find out a movie has subtitles. The problem may be that people are just too lazy to read, even if it is for a minute or two just to find out about the movie they are going to see. But that's just my 2 cents.
@ArsonCuff (3121)
• United States
25 Mar 07
I do not think theatres should have to warn you about subtitles. if someone is interested in a movie then they would be able to figure that out easily as you stated, not to mention you can look at the movie poster and see all of the spanish names and such involved with the maiking of the film. Furthermore I think people who disregard films due to subtitles are limiting themselves in a great way to a wonderful avenue of entertainment...films like Pan's Labyrinth, Brotherhood of the Wolf, ect. ect. are awesome. Really I guess the people who complain about subtitles are possibly natural born complainers in general because once you start a movie with subtitles after the intial realization that they are there you forget you are even reading..if the movie is good.
@miejanne (222)
• Finland
25 Mar 07
Hehee, this is funny! We have just the opposite, it's mentioned if a foreign movie is dubbed in finnish, and those are for the kids! I think adult people should be able to read some subtitles, but maybe it's too much to ask for.
@toolfan (305)
• United States
24 Mar 07
We have a Regal Movie theater out here in Idaho. They always tell you when any movie has subtitles, and actually have a few movies early in the day that are for the hearing impaired also. I went to an Italian movie a while ago that I did not know was going to be actually in Italian, and found it hard at times to stay up with the movie. That is when I decided that I was going to read up on movies before I went to see them...so in conclusion??? It's up to us to do the homework on the movies before we see them.