Sunday, April 5, 2009

AMC’s Sensory Friendly Films and Monsters vs. Aliens

Asperger's, autism, crowds, noise sensitivity, outings, sensory integration disorder, sensory issues, movie reviews, sensory friendly films, Monsters vs Aliens, Autism Society of America, AMC theaters

Image borrowed according to fair use from Paramount Pictures

A while back it came to my attention that some theaters offered what they called sensory friendly films, but at the time I didn't pay much attention to it. We've only taken our kids to the movies very rarely, mostly because there aren't that many movies we've been interested for them to see. But Monsters vs. Aliens looked a little too good to pass up. We decided to try to take them, but we were concerned about loud explosions bothering both kids, not just Gus. They seemed so excited to see the movie that I decided to do a little research.

It turns out that AMC Theaters partnered with the Autism Society of America to offer these sensory friendly films for kids on the autism spectrum. The films are shown at certain times of the month at select participating theaters. If there isn't a participating theater nearby, you can contact AMC – they might try to change that. The nearest theater to us was about an hour and a half away, near my sister, so we made a day of it. We packed the kids up early in the morning, went out for a big breakfast, and then met my sister and nephew for lunch after the movie.

So modifications did the theater offer? We got lucky that we called for the schedule when we did because this theater offers the accommodations the first Saturday of every month at the first showing. This is beneficial for two reasons: no crowds and matinee rates (we always prefer to pay matinee rates in case Gus doesn't make it through the entire movie). Once the movie started, the lights went down, but not to total darkness. And the best part - which made the movie more enjoyable even for me – the sound was turned down. It was great! The movie was not shown in 3D, which I was grateful for because I was worried about it being too overwhelming for Gus. He got a little fidgety, but not to the extent that he wanted to leave; he just needed to move. No one complained about his movement or when he made comments to the screen. The last time he watched an entire movie in the theater was probably when we went to see Curious George 3 years ago. It was a very nice time.

Was Monsters vs. Aliens worth the 3 hours round trip that we spent in the car? Totally worth it! I've come to have a high level of trust in Dreamworks productions. It was exciting and fun for both kids and parents (there were some hilarious pop culture references) without being crude or obnoxious. In other words, it was just our speed. I highly recommend it!

Have you experienced any sensory friendly films? If so, how did you enjoy it? If not, would you be interested in trying one out?


  1. Nick does not want to see this, although he loves all Dreamworks pics. He is 14 now so maybe would rather wait for it on DVD. Matthew has never been to the movies before. The showings for the sensory films are not in close proximity to me and I would not spend that much time driving in LA traffic to do so.

  2. I totally understand about making such a long drive! My sister's proximity to the theater was a big plus. I can understand a 14 year old not wanting to see it in the theater. It was pretty funny though! Thanks for commenting!

  3. Andrea - thanks as always for the comments. Jilly and I saw M vs A and loved it. I, however, had no idea about the sensory friendly accomodations at a theater. . . when Jilly was younger we used to have to wait outside until the previews (and the 'please turn off your cell-phones') were over.

    I am going to tell our friends about this.

    (I haven't checked where the theater is yet, but I know we live somewhat close to each other)

    Have a good week. . . no school!!

  4. Gus likes the previews and commercials (my daughter got annoyed at one because it was showing the characters being 'mean' and she took offense). Our big problem is crowds and loud noise, which honestly, neither of them is too fond of. So this was really like a dream for us.

    There's a theater in the Bronx and one in Manhattan - those are the only 2 listed for the NY area. If Jilly likes Hannah Montana, I believe that's going to be showing in 2 weeks.

  5. Sensory friendly films sound a great idea and I'm glad you all enjoyed the film.


Welcome - thanks for sharing your insights!