Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Thousands flock to view autism friendly film

More than 3,000 people nationwide took the opportunity to view special autism-friendly screenings of new film Mr Popper’s Penguins, as part of the Autism Friendly Films project. The nationwide project, launched by autism and learning disability support provider Dimensions and cinema chain ODEON, aims to open up the cinema-going experience to people across the UK with autism.

Liz Harvey (left) and Dimensions Support Worker Emma Denning (right) at ODEON Cardiff.

Forty cinemas across the country took part in the special screening of Mr Popper’s Penguins, which stars Jim Carrey. Subtle differences made to the auditorium, including low lighting and reduced sound effects, meant that people with sensory differences were able to watch the family comedy in an environment more conducive with their needs. Cinemas in Colchester and Hatfield sold out and cinemas in Worcester and Southend each saw more than 150 people attending.

For some people, this was their first ever cinema experience because the thought of attending a mainstream cinema screening had previously been too difficult to contemplate. Dimensions hope that this special screening will now mean that some people will be able to continue to experience watching a film on the big screen.

Lisa Hopkins, director of specialist development for Dimensions said: “This morning [Thursday, August 11] I have witnessed people of all ages enjoying the cinema in an environment that was more conducive with their needs. People were laughing and clapping during the film and it was truly thrilling to see so many people enjoying themselves without the fear of being hushed or feeling uneasy because of the darkness or the loud sound effects. “I think the number of people that came… is testament to the demand for these special screenings and it really demonstrates what can be achieved when people work together to make places like the cinema more accessible to everyone.”

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