Winnie the Pooh fans, rejoice! The honey-loving bear and the gang are hitting the silver screen all over the country this weekend in a new film called Christopher Robin. And in even better news, there will be sensory-friendly screenings of Christopher Robin at various movie theaters across the United States, designed for guests on the autism spectrum or individuals who have other sensory disorders.
On Saturday, Aug. 4 at 10:30 a.m., several dozen Regal movie theaters will offer a "My Way Matinee" for a $6.50 ticket price, according to press materials sent to Romper. The showings will have several features making the moviegoing experience easier on children with autism and/or sensory disorders— the movie will be played at a lower volume, the house lights will remain on, and guests will be allowed to make noise and dance during the showing.
Regal's sensory-friendly showings of Christopher Robin are listed on Regal's website, and they will be playing in cities from Santa Clarita to Boise to Wichita to Syracuse.
If those locations and date do not work for you, other movie theaters are offering sensory-friendly showings of the movie as well. AMC has a partnership with the Autism Society, and the theater chain offers sensory-friendly film screenings on the second Saturday, the fourth Saturday, and some Tuesday evenings every month, according to AMC's website. Christopher Robin will play AMC theaters on Saturday Aug. 25, and you can check if there is a sensory-friendly showing in your area by checking your local theater's movie times.
Another movie theater chain, Showcase Cinemas, is offering sensory-sensitive screenings of Christopher Robin at various theaters at 10:00 a.m. on Sept. 1. Showcase Cinemas' website explains that they do not show trailers before these showings, and in addition to making noise, guests are permitted to walk around, clap, and bring comfort items with them. The website also has a good explanation of why these showings are so important:
We understand and respect that for some people, going to the movies may be a challenge or nearly impossible. The darkness of the auditorium, the loud volume, the need to stay seated and the different immersive formats offered can be overwhelming for guests with sensory sensitivities. To make sure that all of our guests have the opportunity to enjoy the experience of seeing a movie in the cinema with their friends and family, Showcase Cinemas offers monthly screenings at select locations that are designed to accommodate guests who may require a different environment.
The Autism Society explains AMC's sensory-friendly showings program further on its website. The organization adds that for AMC sensory-friendly screenings, families are permitted to bring their own snacks as long as they are gluten-free and casein-free (dairy-free). Additionally, the Autism Society's website shares the story of how the screenings began.
Back in 2007, a woman named Marianne Ross took her 7-year-old daughter Meaghan who was on the autism spectrum to see a movie, the website explains. They were asked to leave the theater after other guests complained about Meaghan dancing and jumping during the showing. So, Ross spoke with the manager of an AMC theater in her area, and he very happily scheduled the very first sensory-friendly movie showing. The screening was so successful that the manager suggested the idea to AMC's corporate office. AMC's corporate Community-Relations Manager loved the idea, so she set up a partnership with the Autism Society of America. Now, 11 years later, numerous movie theaters nationwide offer sensory-friendly screenings, making it possible for families of children on the autism spectrum to all go to the movies together.
It's so important for companies to consider ways to make their product accessible for everyone, even for something as simple as going to the movies. Bravo to all these movie theaters for working to make the moviegoing experience more inclusive.