LAYTON -- A local movie theater continues to partner with the Autism Society to offer a morning at the movies for those affected by autism, sensory issues and other disabilities.
Sensory Friendly Films will present a 10 a.m. showing this Saturday of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" at the AMC Loews Layton Hills 9, 728 W. 1425 North. Tickets are $4 and can be bought the day of the event.
The Layton theater is the only one in Utah at this time participating in the national program, officials said.
To provide a more accepting and comfortable setting for children with autism or other special needs, AMC movie auditoriums during the show will keep their lights up and the sound of the film turned down, Autism Society media specialist Amanda Glensky said.
Autism is a complex neuro- developmental disability that affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others, Glensky said in a news release. It often comes with sensory challenges, such as hypersensitivity to light or sound.
To provide a more comfortable setting for the children, families will be able to bring in their own gluten-free, casein-free snacks, with no previews or advertisements to be shown.
Audience members also will be allowed to get up and walk around, dance, shout or sing, she said.
In other words, AMC's "Silence is Golden" policy will be not be enforced unless the safety of the audience is in question, Glensky said.
Children or adults affected by autism may not understand the social boundaries of movie theater etiquette, such as not talking during the film or sitting still through most of the show, she said.
The Layton theater has been a partner with the Autism Society in hosting the Sensory Friendly Films for some time, with the showing this Saturday being about the sixth show for which the theater has provided a special screening, Layton AMC theater manager Suzette Hubenthal said.
With some of the shows, the theater has drawn close to 100 people, Hubenthal said, but the past two showings the numbers attending has declined, with the last showing, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," drawing only about a dozen people.
The theater management hopes the showing of the Narnia sequel will draw good attendance, as the film appears to be more sensitive in nature than the Harry Potter film, Hubenthal said.
Bringing the auditorium lights up some, and the sound down, Hubenthal said, also provides a more theater-friendly environment for young children just becoming accustomed to going to the movies.
An estimated 1.5 million Americans have an autism spectrum disorder, with one in every 110 children having an autism spectrum disorder, Glensky said.
Sensory Friendly Films, which began in 2008, has been very successful, growing from 10 theaters to 130 theaters in 61 markets across the United States and Canada, said Marguerite Colston, vice president of constituent relations for the Autism Society.
The AMC theater chain guarantees to provide a new release for the program on a monthly basis, Colston said.
"By and large, we try and get things that are G or PG-rated (in meeting family needs)," Colston said.
The Autism Society is based out of Bethesda, Md., with chapters in all 50 states, Colston said.
For information on Sensory Friendly Films visit www.autism-society.org.