New Mexico Autism Society

Startlight Cinema 8 Sensory Friendly Movie Experience Pilot Program

July 17, 2015 – Christina Angel-Jolly

New Mexico Autism Society collaborates with Mitchell Theatres Startlight Cinema 8 to offer a sensory friendly movie experience at Los Lunas theatre.


The New Mexico Autism Society is happy to announce a partnership with Mitchell Theatres Starlight Cinema for a 3 month pilot program that will offer a “sensory friendly movie” on the first Saturday of every month. The first show will be Minions on August 1, 2015 at 11:30.


The sensory friendly movie experience offers families affected by autism or any other disability which could benefit, the opportunity to watch the movie without the pressure to remain quiet and still. The theatre lights will be kept on throughout the show and the volume is lowered lessening the overwhelming sensory environment. In addition, the theatre will also open their doors early and offer the showing before the crowds arrive.


These accommodations will not come at any additional cost to attendees. The theatre typically charges $5.75 per person and will remain the same for the sensory friendly experiences. For the showing of the Minions the New Mexico Autism Society will cover the cost of admission for those who have autism.


Gary Jacobson, General Manager of the Starlight Cinema 8 was approached by a customer and mother, Lucinda Lopez who has a 4 year old son with autism about the possibility of offering a “sensory friendly” showing of the Minions movie. Living in Socorro, the family struggles in taking their son to the theatre because of all the pressures and the overwhelming sensory environment a movie creates. Lopez told us, “sadly we have to wait until the movie comes out on DVD, and its been so hard watching the previews of the Minions Movie knowing he has to wait to watch it, he doesn’t understand why he has to wait,” Lopez is not alone, many families just like the Lopez family wait for a movie to come out on DVD to watch it. After discussions with the theatre owner, Jacobson decided to not only offer that movie in a sensory sensitive environment, but conduct a piolet program and depending on participation, the theatre could make this a monthly program.


Sarah Baca, Executive Director of the New Mexico Autism Society could not be more thrilled to see this happen on a monthly basis. “This is an amazing show of community support for Starlight to offer this opportunity to families not only affected by autism, but those who may struggle with sensory needs and who are not able to attend a movie as a family because of the stress it causes. We are excited to see this happen and are happy to be collaborating with this fine business to provide the best environment possible for the families. When I got the phone call from Mr. Jacobson and began discussing the possibility, I was overcome with so much excitement.”


Future Showings will be September 5th and October 3rd ShowTime will be at 11:30 for each of the showings. After the 3 month pilot is up, Starlight and NMAS will evaluate the outcomes and determine the possibility of carrying the program forward.


About New Mexico Autism Society

The New Mexico Autism Society is dedicated to improving the lives of all affected by autism in NM. They strive to create a community of acceptance, support and connection and offer social outings, support group meetings, adult meet ups and resources to those affected by autism and their families. For more information about The New Mexico Autism Society call 332-0306 or go to


posted by Christina A

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