Fathom Events is partnering with the Autism Society of America to bring alternative content to autistic customers, starting with the Bolshoi Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker” on Dec. 19, Variety has learned exclusively.
The one-night, sensory-friendly event — which mirrors AMC’s nine-year-old program — provides for the lights to be raised and the audio lowered. Audiences will not be expected to stay quiet or in their seats, so those on the spectrum and their families can feel comfortable in the movie theater, allowing patrons to dance along with the ballerinas on screen, shout, sing, move around the room and express themselves however they like.
Fathom, which specializes in presenting live events for theatrical chains on weeknights, is co-owned by AMC Entertainment, Cinemark Holdings, and Regal Entertainment Group. Fathom CEO John Rubey and the Autism Society’s Matthew Asner told Variety that the companies began working on their collaboration last year and plan to offer several similar live-performance events in 2017.
“The Nutcracker” will be captured live from the Bolshoi stage in Moscow and shown in 26 U.S. locations. The content is provided by BY Experience and Pathé Live.
“Our hope is that families and children with all kinds of special needs can now go to the movie theater and feel comfortable being themselves,” Fathom Events VP of Programming Kymberli Frueh said. “We want to share the world of event cinema with everyone, and sensory-friendly screenings are another way we can provide access to a variety of audiences.”
Fathom screened the animated “Batman: The Killing Joke,” which grossed $3.8 million, on the last Monday and Tuesday of July. Other notable Fathom titles include “The Sound of Music 50th Anniversary,” “Finding Noah: An Adventure of Faith,” “Ed Sheeran: Jumpers for Goalposts,” and the anti-global warming documentary “Climate Hustle” with Sarah Palin participating in the post-screening discussion.
“We are delighted to be able to partner with Fathom Events to bring the production of ‘The Nutcracker’ shown in sensory responsive theaters to families and individuals impacted by autism this holiday season,” said Scott Badesch, president, Autism Society of America.