After a long 14 years, fans of The Incredibles finally received the sequel they have been waiting for. But a little bit of G-rated villainy isn't all that parents have to worry about when taking their kids to see the high grossing film. Some theaters are posting seizure warnings for The Incredibles 2, and here's everything parents need to know before heading to the movies with their families.
The Incredibles 2 premiered in U.S. theaters on Friday, June 15, and boasted the biggest box office opening of any animated movie, according to Vanity Fair. But after watching the film, some users tweeted about certain scenes that they said contained flashing lights and could pose a risk to those with photosensitive epilepsy or other photo sensitivities, according to CNN. Romper has reached out to Disney for comment, but had not heard back at the time of this publication.
The part of the film that people on Twitter allege could trigger seizures begins roughly an hour into the movie when the villain Screenslaver uses a weapon that involves flashing lights, according to The New York Times. About 50 million people around the world suffer from epilepsy, according to the World Health Organization, with 3 percent of them having visual stimulation triggers — which can include flashing lights and moving patterns. For those with this sort of epilepsy, the Screenslaver scenes may come with a risk.
After viewing the film over the weekend and noticing that there was no warning for those with a sensitivity to flashing lights, many took to Twitter to express their concerns and frustrations.
It is worth noting, however, that the voices on Twitter are not medical professionals and therefore their comments should be taken with a grain of salt. However, the Epilepsy Foundation has also voiced its concerns over the film.
Since then, posts have been popping up showing photos of warnings posted by movie theaters across the country. The signs are the result of requests from Disney, according to People, and warn of the flashing lights and advise viewers to take caution if they are sensitive to that kind of stimulation. Such posts, as well as emails with stories of viewers experiencing seizures, prompted the Epilepsy Foundation to issue a statement praising the theaters that posted warnings, according to CBS News:
Members of our community have expressed concerns about flashing lights in the new Disney Pixar movie 'Incredibles 2,' and, in certain instances, people having experienced a seizure during the movie. We stand with our epilepsy warriors and their families as they voice their concerns about the movie and appreciate the efforts some theaters have already made to post warning signs for people waiting to see the movie.
The statement goes on to warn people with epilepsy to take caution:
For those who have been diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy — or are simply sensitive to flashing lights — and are planning to watch the movie, they should be advised that the flashing lights may trigger seizures in some people.
Parents of children with photosensitive epilepsy or other forms of photosensitivity should be extra cautious when deciding if the film is for them. This form of epileptic seizure is more common in children, especially those with general epilepsy or juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. Dr. Jacqueline French, the chief scientific officer of the foundation explained to The New York Times that, “There are certain things that send an input into the brain that gets a little excitable and that input triggers a seizure.”
She told The Times that in order to trigger a seizure, the flashing lights must occur at a particular range of frequencies, with the most common being "between 10 flashes per second to about 25 to 30 flashes per second." The resulting seizures generally last around 30 seconds, but some people may take up to a week to fully recover. If reports of viewers experiencing seizures are true, it would seem that the scenes in The Incredibles 2 might fall within that spectrum.
If you or your child have photosensitive epilepsy but still wish to see The Incredibles 2, there are certain precautions you should take. Dr. Shlomo Shinnar, president of the American Epilepsy Society and director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Management Center at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York, told CNN that "people with photosensitive epilepsy can reduce their risk by watching with the lights on or being further away from the screen." Another option is to wait until the film is released on DVD and to fast forward through the section that includes the flashing lights.
It is ultimately up to parents to decide if The Incredibles 2 is a safe movie for their children to see, but the added information coming from the warnings certainly makes that decision a bit easier.