Cinema chain Cineworld has joined the Autism Friendly Films initiative and will start showing films in conditions specially adapted to the needs of people with autism from next month.

Not-for-profit organisation Dimensions, which supports people who experience autism and people with learning disabilities, has partnered with Cineworld in a deal which extends the former’s Autism Friendly Film initiative to more than 100 cinemas across the UK.

Autism Friendly Films began as a partnership between Dimensions and ODEON in August 2011. Since then the screenings have grown in popularity. It is the first time a social care provider has partnered with two entertainment companies in this way, offering a wider choice for cinema goers.

At Autism Friendly Film screenings, subtle adjustments are made to the cinema so that it is more comfortable for people with autism or learning disabilities. This includes the lights being left on low and the volume being turned down. No trailers are shown at the beginning of the film and people can move around the cinema and make some noise if they want.

Lisa Hopkins, executive director of practice development at Dimensions, said having two partnerships would provide more opportunities for people with autism to be included in their communities. 

“We are really pleased to be partnering with Cineworld to extend this important and successful project even further. People who can sometimes be excluded from the traditional cinema experience because they may find the sensory experience too difficult to manage will be able to watch a wider variety of films, more frequently, in an environment conducive to their needs. These opportunities are important stepping stones towards full inclusion in mainstream cinemas.

“The cinema experience can be a particularly challenging environment but it is one that can be made accessible by good partnership working. We have seen how successful such initiatives can be – in just the first year more than 21,000 people watched the screenings we organised with ODEON – and we are excited about the prospect of building upon that further.”

Tamlin McKinnon, head of customer services at Cineworld, added: “Cineworld are delighted to be teaming up with Dimensions to extend the range of screenings that we show and welcome in an audience who may have previously felt the cinema experience off-putting.”

Cineworld will provide Autism Friendly Screenings every month at 21 of its cinemas. The first screening will be children’s comedy Christmas film Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger on December 2 at 11am.

ODEON will also show Nativity 2 in more than 80 cinemas on December 16 at 11.30am. 

For more information and booking details, visit www.dimensions-uk.org/autismfilms