KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Regal Cinemas is offering a new way for families with autistic children to see movies. They are calling it “My Way Matinee” and it allows the children to see movies with lights on and sounds lowered.
For many, going to the movies is all about the experience – dimming the lights, boosting the sound and seeing a new film on the big screen – but for others, that kind of experience is too much.
“We love the idea that family, friends and individuals can come to the theater and see a movie with the lights up and the volume lowered, that they might have a more comfortable atmosphere than they had before,” said Sandra Heinig, director of public relations for Regal Cinemas.
Regal partnered a few years ago with an autism awareness group called Puzzles International to show movies in that fashion, calling them “My Way Matinee” sensory friendly screenings. They encourage viewers to cry, sing, dance and just generally be themselves.
“Sometimes in the movies, everyone likes you to be quiet and to sit there, and for some families that may not be the way their children or their families experience movies,” said Heinig. “You don’t have to sit still, and hopefully that makes it fun for everyone who comes to the movies.”
The first “My Way Matinee” showing in Knoxville was Saturday, drawing in a crowd of almost 100 people, each enjoying the chance to go to the movies in a setting they feel comfortable with.
“It was great because I think people felt more comfortable in an atmosphere that they haven’t had before in the movie theater,” said Heinig.
There are three other “My Way Matinee” showings scheduled. The next is for the movie “Pan” on October 24, followed by “The Peanuts Movie” on November 21 and “The Good Dinosaur” on December 12. Each showing starts at 10:30 with a discounted ticket price of $6.50.
Regal says if the response is good for each of the showings, they could continue the “My Way Matinee” program regularly throughout the year. For a full list of participating locations and additional information, you can visit www.regmovies.com/mywaymatinee.