The Walt Disney Co. is asking exhibitors worldwide to warn moviegoers that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker may pose a seizure risk to audience members with photosensitive epilepsy. The Disney/Lucasfilm fantasy film opens Dec. 20.
In an unusual move, Disney has sent a letter to theater owners and operators worldwide with a recommendation that special steps should be taken to alert moviegoers about the visual effects and flashing lights in the J.J. Abrams-directed interstellar adventure.
“Out of an abundance of caution,” the letter opens, “we recommend that you provide at your venue box office and online, and at other appropriate places where your customers will see it, a notice containing the following information: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker contains several sequences with imagery and sustained flashing lights that may affect those who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy or have other photosensitivities.”
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The Burbank-based Disney is also working with the Epilepsy Foundation, which issued an advisory of its own and commended the studio for taking the initiative on the audience safety issue. About 3.4 million Americans have epilepsy and about three percent have photosensitivity issues that puts them at risk of seizures triggered by flashing lights or other visual patterns.
“We thank Disney for reaching out to us and proactively providing information to movie theatres and moviegoers in advance of the movie’s release,” the Epilepsy Foundation advisory stated. “If you or someone you know are sensitive to lights, please consider the following as you make plans to watch the movie: Ask a friend to watch the movie first. Take your friend with you when you go see the film to alert you to which scenes contain the flashing lights so you block your eyes during those scenes. Teach your friend the three simple steps of seizure first aid — Stay, Safe, Side — so that they can assist if you have a seizure.”
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is directed by Abrams and produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Abrams and Michelle Rejwan. Callum Greene, Tommy Gormley and Jason McGatlin serve as executive producers. The screenplay was written by Chris Terrio & J.J. Abrams and the story is by Derek Connolly & Colin Trevorrow and Abrams & Chris Terrio, based on characters created by George Lucas.
The film stars the late Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, with Ian McDiarmid and Billy Dee Williams.
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