Terry Goddard and AMC Announce Greater Movie Theater Accessibility for Disabled

(Phoenix, Ariz. – March 31, 2009)  Attorney General Terry Goddard and American MultiCinema, Inc., and its subsidiaries and affiliates, (AMC) today announced a settlement that will expand accessibility for blind, deaf and hard-of-hearing movie patrons.  

AMC currently has nine auditoriums in Arizona equipped with technology that enable blind, deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons to enjoy movies shown in its theaters.  This lawsuit sought to expand the number of AMC auditoriums equipped with this technology to create greater access.   

According the agreement, which recognizes the parties’ mutual desire to expand access for disabled patrons rather than expending time and resources in litigation, AMC will:  

  • Double the number of auditoriums in Arizona equipped with technology allowing blind, deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons to enjoy movies in the next 30 months as AMC introduces digital cinema to its theaters.
  • Equip 10 percent of the auditoriums in any newly built theaters with digital captioning and narrative description, technology which describes the action and scenery appearing on screen.
  • Include Arizona theaters in the first 25 percent of theaters it transitions to digital cinema.
  • Make good faith efforts to offer a broader choice of captioned and described movies to its blind and deaf patrons.

“We commend AMC for being at the forefront of expanding access for the disabled community.  AMC already offers substantially more movie-going opportunities for deaf and blind Arizonans than other theater chains in the state. This agreement reaffirms AMC’s commitment to do the right thing.”  Attorney General Terry Goddard said.   

AMC General Counsel Kevin Connor concurred by stating, “We are pleased to have reached this agreement, which will significantly expand access for the disabled community in Arizona to more fully enjoy their movie experiences at AMC Theaters with the advantages of digital cinema.  The agreement also recognizes AMC’s ongoing efforts to transition to digital cinema and its desire to invest its money in technology that aids our deaf, hearing impaired and blind patrons.”  

In a similar lawsuit brought by the State against Harkins theaters, a federal district court dismissed the lawsuit concluding that the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Arizona Civil Rights Act do not require theaters to display captions for customers who are deaf or hard of hearing or to provide audio descriptions for customers who are blind or visually impaired.   The State has appealed this decision, which is pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.   

A copy of the settlement is attached.

The Arizona Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex, disability, national origin or ancestry.  Any person who believes that their civil rights have been violated should call the Arizona Attorney General's Civil Rights Division toll-free at 1-877-491-5742, or toll free via TDD at 1-877-624-8090.