Causing a Scene: Stats

Some of you may remember that I ran a simple 6 question survey at the end of last year, well, here are the results! We had 496 respondents, which was WAY more than I expected since it was just me repeatedly sharing it on my personal Facebook page and annoying the flip out of everyone. Thanks for still being my pals!

I’ll just run through the questions below, a couple of them are just boring demographics-type questions, but there were some responses that really surprised me.

  1. How old are you?

Under 21 – 4.5%

22-35 – 53.5%

36-50 – 27.5%

51-65 – 12%

Over 65 – 2.5%

So far, so disinteresting. But the one thing of note is that the vast majority of responses were from people aged between 22 and 50, which also happens to be the largest cinema going audience. So, sciencey people would say, good data sample group. Thank you sciencey people.

2. Do you have any kind of hearing loss?


Yes, I’m hard of hearing – 11%

Yes, I’m profoundly deaf – 22.5%

Well, sciencey people wouldn’t like that would they? I’ll hold my hands up and admit that the results are skewed slightly towards people who have some hearing loss, in that they represent a greater proportion within the study than they do in the  general population. But this is a campaign looking to support them* so I’m glad to have heard from lots of people that this will directly affect.

3. How often do you go to the cinema?

Hardly ever – 14.5%

A few times a year – 56.5%

Once or twice a month – 22%

Once or twice a fortnight – 4.5%

More than once a week – 2%

Nothing to say here really, other than I’m quite jealous of those people going to the cinema more than once a week.**

4. Do you attend subtitled showings at the cinema?

No, I actively avoid a subtitled showing – 11%

Sometimes, I don’t seek them out but I don’t avoid them – 61.5%

Yes, I need to because I have hearing loss which means I require films to be subtitled – 27.5%

When I wrote the survey I was worried about this question because so many people had told me that the reason there are no subtitled films is because people actively avoid them. And, in 11% of cases people are actively avoiding them.

5. What proportion of cinema showings should be subtitled?

0-25% – 13.5%

26-50% – 32%

51-75% – 17%

76-100% – 37%

This was the biggest shocker to me. I thought that most people would go with the lower options, but definitely wasn’t expecting the largest piece of the pie to be 75-100%. One person suggested having subtitled films at the same, sensible time every day in every cinema, which is  a lovely idea, but I think would still ghettoise people with hearing loss into one area. Ideally, I’d have every screening subtitled, lets just all go together shall we?

6.Would increased subtitled showings affect the amount of times you would visit the cinema?

I wouldn’t go as often – 3%

I would go more regularly – 32.5%

It wouldn’t change my attendence – 64.5%

I think this question is really key. 97% of people would, at the very least, go to the cinema as often as they already do. That includes 77% of the respondents that actively avoid cinema screenings.

The cinemas have told me time and time again that subtitling reduces attendance. And perhaps it does in practice, but this data suggests otherwise. The conversations I have suggest otherwise. I’m almost certain that subtitling isn’t the way forward, but that it is investment in smarter, better technologies that is going to enable those with hearing loss to have greater access to the cinema. But, in the meantime, I think we can be having conversations around how people with a perceived disability access a world that is designed to exclude them and isolate them. By making subtitling a one off, rare event, we make it for people with hearing loss. On the other hand, if subtitled cinema screenings were totally mainstream, those with hearing loss wouldn’t be ghettoised into a particular screening, away from everyone else.

I’ve sat in empty cinemas at 11am on Saturday mornings with my Mum. That’s exactly what a cinema experience isn’t meant to be. Do you know how cold an empty cinema is? How distracting that is from the film? Do you know what a shame it is to not be able to see anyone else react to the film? To miss laughing, or crying, along with a crowd? It’s crap. And the cinema, for me at least, should be a magical place, where can escape into a fantasy land, rather than being harshly reminded, yet again, that the world you are in doesn’t serve you. And we have to change that.

*mostly so that i can go to the cinema with my Mum, but still, other deaf people have hearing kids/friends/partners/grandmas/like the cinema too.

** I appreciate that this adds up to 99.5%, we are rounding to the closest .5%. This’ll probably happen more than once in this post, but I’m always happy to show you my data if you want to look at it. Just drop me a line at

Disclaimer: I’m not a statistician. I’m a healthcare assistant. I’m more equipped to hold frightened old ladies hand’s than I am to muck about in excel. Any mistakes, and there will be some, will be mine. Be generous.

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