- Odeon, Cineworld, Vue, Showcase, Empire and Picturehouse Cinemas to show Autism Friendly Screenings nationwide
- With support from autism support provider Dimensions, screenings provide further boost to UK’s growing cinema audience for people with autism
UK cinema operators have come together to host the first ever national week of Autism Friendly Screenings [AFS] in support of World Autism Awareness Day.
On Wednesday 2 April, a week of Autism Friendly Screenings will be launched at ODEON Studios, Leicester Square with a preview screening of RIO 2 courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.
Cameron Saunders, Managing Director at Twentieth Century Fox UK said: “Whilst it’s a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids in RIO 2, we’re delighted to make the wilds of the Amazon a welcoming and inclusive environment on World Autism Awareness Day.”
Welcoming the launch of the week, Roger Harris, COO of ODEON & UCI Cinemas Group, commented:
“Odeon has been delighted to partner with Dimensions to provide a wide menu of film for this important audience group.
Watching a film on the big screen remains a wonderful experience and one that should be accessible to everyone. We are proud of our relationship with Dimensions and continue to value their input to make these screenings as popular and successful as we can.”
Autism Friendly Screenings of RIO 2, as well as The Walt Disney Studios’ MUPPETS MOST WANTED, will take place around the country between Wednesday 2 April and Tuesday 8 April. Reduced sound levels, increased lighting and advert-free content allow this audience group, their families and carers to be comfortable and feel fully included in the unique experience of a trip to the cinema.
Claire Lockwood, who along with her husband and daughter Jodie has been going to Autism Friendly Screenings for the last two years, said:
“The screenings are wonderful. When I first went I couldn’t believe how relaxed the atmosphere was. Jodie jumps up and down in her seat and laughs when she’s excited so it’s great she can do that and we don’t have to discourage her.
She really loves it and it’s good to find something she enjoys. Because she’s had good experiences she knows what to expect when we say ‘cinema’.”
Lisa Hopkins, Executive Director of Practice Development at Dimensions, said the screenings are an element of the organisation’s focus to provide more inclusive environments for people with autism.
Lisa said:“We are proud of the way that Autism Friendly Screenings have been received and continue to grow. This has allowed thousands of people who would have previously been excluded from the cinema environment to enjoy watching films. This has only been made possible through the continued support of our cinema partners.
“Offering more screenings during April is really exciting and encouraging. There is a clear need for this service and I hope that everybody enjoys this extra opportunity to see even more Autism Friendly Screenings.
“People who can sometimes be excluded from the traditional cinema experience, because they may find the sensory experience too difficult to manage, are now able to watch a wider variety of films, more frequently, in an environment conducive with their needs. These opportunities are important stepping stones towards full inclusion in mainstream cinemas.”
Cinemas already running Autism Friendly Screenings have found that they can be a great way to bring people back to the cinema. Phil Clapp, Chief Executive of the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association, the trade body for UK cinema operators, which has helped coordinate these screenings and helps promote broader work on access, being undertaken by the sector, said:
“Over the last year or so, an increasing number of UK cinema operators have begun programming autism friendly screenings for their local communities. World Autism Awareness Day provides us with an ideal opportunity to celebrate that fact as well as to look forward to more cinemas joining in. The Autism Friendly Screenings are the latest example of the sector’s ongoing commitment to be as inclusive as possible to find different ways to meet the needs of our disabled customers.
About Autism Friendly Screenings
Nationwide Autism Friendly Screenings were first introduced by Dimensions, a leading not-for-profit organisation which supports people who experience autism. Their first partnership was with ODEON and it also now partners with Cineworld, Showcase and Vue. Between them there have been over 94,000 visits to the participating sites. Picturehouse and Empire Cinemas also host regular Autism Friendly Screenings, which are proving to be a success.
Autism Friendly Film Screenings have sound levels turned down, the lights left at a low level and film-goers are able to make noise and sit where they feel comfortable.
A full list of participating cinemas and details regarding locations, facilities and accessibility can be found at www.dimensions-uk.org/autismfilms