The dispute over the role of subtitles in English movies is soon to be resolved. While some film distributors think they’re a distraction, others who have discovered they’re a handy tool will release prints both with and without them and let the audience decide.
Sony Pictures hasn’t run subtitles with their films, and don’t plan for their upcoming release, Salt, either. “Subtitles make sense for action movies since the audience might not understand dialogues.But it’s also distracting to concentrate on the bottom half of the screen," says an industry insider.
A growing trend?
The trend could have caught on because English film channels such as Star Movies and HBO have now started running subtitles for every programme they air. Warner Bros noticed that Indian audiences find heavily-accented English dialects too complicated.
Their first subtitled movie was Sherlock Holmes, followed by Invictus and now Inception, and they say that the audience response to it has been positive. “It’s about an entire experience, and missing out on dialogues wrecks it,” said Denzel Diaz, deputy managing director, theatrical, Warner Bros.
But the company will screen subtitled prints only in select cinemas, and let the audience make the decision of where to watch it. “About 85 per cent of our audience felt we should run subtitles, so we’re going to have them in every film starting Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows,” Diaz added.
Their upcoming films such as Cats And Dogs 2 and Legends Of The Guardian will be released both with and without subtitles. “We take into account whether the audience will understand what’s being spoken, more than the genre of the film,” Diaz said.
Movie-buff Sukhwant Basra feels subtitles ruin the action on screen. He says, “They tell you what the actor says even before he actually says it. And then you just can’t concentrate on what’s happening.”