When Showcase Cinemas received calls from customers requesting an ongoing program that would cater to the needs of movie-goers with sensory sensitivity, the company began to realize the need for a program like this and was eager to get started. Vice President of Global Marketing at Showcase Cinemas, Mark Malinowski, says the company partnered with Autism Speaks in order to create a safe and effective environment for viewers with such sensitivities.
The research Showcase Cinemas and Autism Speaks conducted found that making adjustments like omitting trailers before the movie in order to reduce the length of the showing would provide a more ideal environment. Research also found that the more immersive the showing, the more uncomfortable it could be for the viewers. So, the new Sensory Sensitive Screenings will show movies only in 2D with dim lighting and lower sound. “[Autism Speaks] also helped our staff understand how to best serve customers at these movies,” Malinowski says.
On July 7, Showcase Cinemas in Springdale hosted the first Sensory Sensitive Screening, showing the new Pixar film, Incredibles 2. This program will continue on the first Saturday of each month, through December, and will continue to show newly released family films. Among these are Hotel Transylvania 3 (August 4), Christopher Robin (September 1), Smallfoot (October 6), Nutcracker and the Four Realms (November 3), and Ralph Breaks the Internet (December 1).
Since a similar program has been implemented in theaters in the United Kingdom for several years, Malinowski says Showcase Cinemas is hoping for a positive reaction to this new, all-inclusive program. “Making these adjustments is something we’re thrilled to do,” he says. “We want to make movies inclusive for everyone.”