Council to probe cinema after noise level leaves girl in tears

The Foster family did not enjoy their cinema trip
The Foster family did not enjoy their cinema trip
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IT was supposed to be a quiet family trip to the cinema to catch the latest animated blockbuster.

But now Andrew Foster is looking to make some noise about cinema sound systems, after the decibel levels at a showing of animated movie Ice Age 4 left his daughter in tears.

Mr Foster said he was forced to take his youngest daughter, Emma, home only minutes into the movie, after the three-year-old burst into tears with her fingers in her ears.

He said the noise levels were so high his own were still ringing hours later.

Now the Vue cinema at Leith’s Ocean Terminal is to be investigated by health and safety officials after he complained to management and the city council.

It is understood the council has previously received complaints about noise levels in the city’s cinemas and that inspectors equipped with meters will now be sent to Vue to check volumes are not excessive.

The investigation comes after a study carried out by paediatricians found some children’s films were so loud they were the equivalent of a jet plane taking off.

Mr Foster, 41, and his wife, Gillian, 37, had taken the tot and her five-year-old sister, Lucy, to the cinema on Sunday afternoon. He said: “We were just there having a good time and then the trailers started and bang! This wall of noise just hit us. It was deafening.

“Lucy had her fingers in her ears. Emma was getting distressed and she was crying.

“A few minutes after the film started, Emma was asking her mum to take her out. They were out for a while and then my wife came back in and said I would have to take her home because it was just too loud for her.

“She was saying her ears ached and that she wanted some Calpol. My own ears were still ringing about 12 hours later.”

Mr Foster complained to the cinema manager and received a half-refund for the family ticket he had bought after Lucy and Gillian opted to stay and watch the rest of the film.

He said he was told the trailers were always louder than the main feature and that it was the first time anyone had complained about sound levels.

Mr Foster said: “As an adult, I know what to expect, but I’m finding it louder in cinemas than it used to be. It seems that every cinema has now got to be louder and bigger and better than its rivals.”

A Vue cinemas spokeswoman said all screenings were sound-checked by the company and that she was “disappointed” to hear about the Fosters’ experience. She said levels were set in accordance with advice provided by filmmakers and added: “We will go on to check these levels before screening the film to the public.

“Our aim is to ensure the best possible cinema experience. Where necessary we will adjust volume levels depending on the type of film and the audience watching it. This is especially the case for films which appeal to children or a mature cinema going demographic.”

A council spokesman said: “We have received a complaint which we will look into.”


CHILDREN’S movies can be as loud as jet planes taking off, according to previous research.

Paediatricians in the United States visited cinemas with noise meters and tested the decibel levels of 23 films.

The 2004 research found some sequences were as loud as standing near a departing aeroplane and that many breached UK guidelines designed to protect employees in noisy workplaces.

Dr Loren Yamamoto, who oversaw the study, said: “Most people never suspect children’s films are as loud or potentially damaging. Hopefully, our findings will change this perception.”