Bangor cinema plans another Disney screening for kids with special needs

Posted Sept. 13, 2012, at 5:15 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Bangor Cinemas 10 has scheduled another movie showing tailored to children with special needs.

After 70 people attended a “sensory-friendly” screening in July of the Disney movie “Brave,” the cinemas decided to plan more of the showings, according to General Manager Sue Bradgon. Another Disney film, the rereleased “Finding Nemo,” will be shown at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 24.

At the screenings, also known as “gentle movie viewings,” the lights stay up, the sound is lowered and shushing is discouraged. The viewings cater to kids with disabilities, particularly autistic children who struggle with the usual booming soundtracks and no-talking, sit-still rules of the movies.

While sensory-friendly showings appeal especially to people with autism, the showing will be open to all.

Children can move freely around the theater and bring in their own food to accommodate special diets. Talking during the film also is allowed so parents don’t have to worry about upsetting other moviegoers.

“We will continue whenever we can to provide this,” Bragdon said.

July’s sensory-friendly showing of “Brave” was the brainchild of Shane Leonard, a Bangor area photographer who organized the event after learning about the viewings from his girlfriend, who has a 9-year-old autistic son. The viewings were common in the boy’s previous home of Chicago, and Leonard wanted to bring them here.

Gentle movie viewings also have been held in southern and western Maine. At some showings in other parts of the country, parents have driven hours so their special-needs children may enjoy the magic of the movies without reproach, Leonard said in July.

“Finding Nemo” will be the fourth gentle viewing film hosted by Bangor Cinemas, and Bragdon said she hopes the popular movie leads to a big turnout.

Tickets can be purchased on the day of the showing for the standard matinee price of $6.50 for both adults and children.

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