Showcase Cinemas has become the fourth chain to join the Autism Friendly Films initiative, service provider Dimensions has announced.
The screenings will launch at Showcase Cinemas nationwide on Sunday, November 10 with the animated comedy sequel Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 at 10am, and continue every second Sunday of the month.
Showcase, which has 20 cinema locations across the UK, joins existing partners ODEON, Vue and Cineworld in showing the latest releases in a tailored environment with lower sound levels and increased lighting to enable people to move around freely during the film. Adverts are also omitted and there is a designated break area outside of the screening as well as clear signage to highlight relevant information and locations within the 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 guests with autism, allowing people to experience the cinema in surroundings more conducive to their needs.
“I am pleased to welcome Showcase Cinemas on board to extend this important and successful project even further,” she said. “More than 60,000 visits to Autism Friendly Screenings have now been recorded – it’s really exciting and encouraging that they have been so well received. Not only that the screenings continue to gain support from national cinema chains, which shows that there was a need to introduce such environments.
“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.”
Claire Lockwood, her husband and daughter Jodie have been going to the screenings since they first started: “The AFFS 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’.”
Julian Carr, chief executive of theatre operations at Showcase, said: “We are broadening our appeal in the wider local community by providing a tailored service to heighten the viewing experience currently on offer, and to ensure that those who might not normally feel comfortable in the traditional cinema environment can come along and enjoy the latest films.”