After being closed during much of the COVID-19 pandemic, many movie theaters have reopened. Distance requirements are in place for patrons and masks are required for all. Other measures are being taken to keep patrons safe, such as increased cleaning.
Changes have been made since theaters were last open. Some theaters have closed for good. Almost all theaters have some area for wheelchair or power scooter seating, as well as companion seating. Most theaters offer assisted listening devices of some types.
The Science Museum of Minnesota Omnitheater is expected to reopen in the near future. It offers the immersive movie experience enjoyed by IMAX fans. The museum and theater are at 120 Kellogg Blvd. W., St. Paul. Tickets are separate from museum admission. Access features of films include captioning, audio description, amplification, Spanish alternate language (via headset) and large print script.
Accommodations for other visual, hearing or sensory disabilities vary by theater and can change over time, so call or email to a theater to see what is new. Keep in mind that some small town theaters, which may be operated by volunteers or a mix of volunteers and staff, may not have the same accommodations found in larger theater chains.
Be aware that not every movie is designed to be accessible, so having assistive technology available doesn’t guarantee the chance to see a new movie.
Rear Window Captioning displays reversed captions on a light-emitting diode (LED) text display which is mounted in the rear of a theater. Patrons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing use transparent acrylic panels attached to their seats to reflect the captions, so they appear superimposed on the movie screen. The reflective panels are portable and adjustable, enabling the caption user to sit anywhere in the theater without bothering patrons in surrounding seats.
DVS Theatrical presents concise descriptive narration of visual cues, including actions, settings, scene changes, facial expressions and silent movement, through an FM or infrared system, making movies more meaningful to people with vision loss. The moviegoer hears the narration on a headset.
CaptiView closed caption viewing systems allow moviegoers to read movie dialogue.
Digital Theatre Systems or DTS superimposes open-captions over the bottom of movie theater screens.
Fidelio is a wireless audio system that delivers descriptive narration for people with vision loss and amplified sound for people with hearing loss. Patrons can get a compact audio receiver with a plug-in headset at the box office or bring their own headset. Descriptive narration and closed captioning availability are subject to the content made available from distributors.
Other websites outline additional options. The American Council of the Blind has an Audio Description Project to enhance movies as well as museums, national parks and live events. It includes many links to audio-described DVDs, Blu-ray discs, television programs and more. Visit www.acb.org for more information.
WGBH in Boston has worked for years on making movies accessible to all and has been involved in the creation of various forms of accessible technology for moviegoers, through its National Center for Accessible Media. Visit www.wgbh.org for more information.
Captionfish, at www.captionfish.com, is an Internet search engine. it can help moviegoers find captioned films by city.
Here’s a list of Minnesota movie theater chains and access options
AMC Theatres has theaters in Apple Valley, Coon Rapids, Eden Prairie, Edina, Inver Grove Heights, Mankato, Maple Grove, Roseville. AMC offers offer assisted listening devices available at all of its theaters, according to the main AMC website Some theaters offer closed captioning, CaptiView and Fidelio. The Roseville and Eden Prairie theaters have offered sensory film experiences through the national Autism Society. FFI: www.amctheatres.com
CEC Theaters has theaters in Albert Lea, Alexandria, Andover, Bemidji, Fergus Falls, Marshall, Mountain Iron, Owatonna, Winona and Hudson, WI. Not all of the Minnesota theaters had reopened when Access Press went to press. Sensory-friendly showings at locations that have had requests from the community. FFI: www.cectheatres.com
Cinemark Theatres operates Cinemark River Hills Movies 8, Mankato. Contact the theater to ask about accommodations.. FFI: www.cinemark.com
Emagine Theaters are in Delano, Eagan, East Bethel, Lakeville, Monticello, Plymouth, Rogers, Waconia and White Bear Township. Theaters offer open captioning, assisted listening devices, personal open caption devices and descriptive video devices. FFI: www.emagine-entertainment.com/accessible-screenings/
Landmark Theatres operates Edina Cinema, and Uptown Theatre and Lagoon Cinema in Minneapolis. Landmark offers CaptiView and Fidelio. FFI: www.landmarktheatres.com
Mann Theatres has locations in Baxter, Champlain, Grand Rapids, Grandview and highland in St. Paul, Hibbing and Plymouth. Not all theaters have reopened. Contact theaters to learn about accommodations. FFI: https://manntheatres.com
Marcus Theatres has theaters in Duluth, Elk River, Hastings, Hermantown, Oakdale, Rochester, Rosemount, Shakopee and Waite Park. Marcus has assisted listening devices and CaptiView at all of its Minnesota locations. Closed captioning, open captioning, descriptive narration and assistive listening device available. FFI: www.marcustheatres.com/amenities/theatre-technology/accessibility-devices
Odyssey Theaters are in Austin, Detroit Lakes, Hutchinson and Rochester. FFI: http://www.odysseytheatres.com/
ShowPlace ICON has one Minnesota theater, Showplace ICON at West End, St. Louis Park. It offers assistive listening devices, closed captioning and descriptive video services. FFI: www.showplaceicon.com