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Flashing Lights In "Incredibles 2" Prompted Disney To Issue Warnings For Moviegoers

Incredibles 2 is a hit at the box office, but the movie's flashing lights may be a problem for people with photosensitive epilepsy or migraines. (No spoilers here, we swear.)

Posted on June 18, 2018, at 5:18 p.m. ET

The Incredibles 2 movie recently broke box office records when it had the most successful opening weekend for any animation film. But the movie's flashing lights weren't a hit with some moviegoers.

People going to see the Incredibles 2 movie, which earned a whopping $180 million at the domestic box office, might notice some new warnings at theaters this week. The blockbuster sparked concern among some patrons who said that certain scenes with flashing or strobe lights could be a safety issue.
Pixar / Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy of Everett

People going to see the Incredibles 2 movie, which earned a whopping $180 million at the domestic box office, might notice some new warnings at theaters this week. The blockbuster sparked concern among some patrons who said that certain scenes with flashing or strobe lights could be a safety issue.

Concerned fans took to Twitter to warn that the movie could potentially trigger epileptic seizures, migraines, and other symptoms for certain viewers.

HEALTH ALERT I haven’t seen this mentioned in a lot of places, but the new Incredibles 2 movie (#incredibles2) is filled with tons of strobe/flashing lights that can cause issues for people with epilepsy, migraines, and chronic illness. This thread is spoiler free

@DisneyPixar I’m bummed that you didn’t think to put out a warning about Incredibles 2 for those who suffer from epilepsy. I’m so sad that I won’t be able to take my daughter who’s been excited for weeks because she has epilepsy and we don’t want to trigger a seizure.

Veronica Lewis (@veron4ica) was one of the first people to spark a conversation about the film's health risks on Twitter in a now-viral thread. "I saw the movie and walked out with a photosensitive migraine from multiple scenes with strobing lights," Lewis, a blogger and student at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, told BuzzFeed News.

Lewis has low vision and watched the movie with an assisted listening device, or ALD, which has an audio track that describes the scenes as they are happening. The device warned her about some of the scenes with flashing lights, but also missed many of them. "The next morning, I called Pixar and didn’t get a response so I decided to write a blog post, then a Twitter thread... I figured that if I could prevent one person from having a seizure or migraine or passing out then I would consider this to be a success," Lewis said.

Other people on Twitter soon chimed in. "TO ANY FRIENDS WHO HAVE EPILEPSY, SEIZURE DISORDERS OR LIGHT SENSITIVITY: please be careful if you’re seeing The Incredibles 2. I unfortunately had an issue and don’t want this happening to anybody else," user @emma_ml_lohman wrote.

"I never wanted people to the boycott movie, it really was incredible, the tweet was more of a public service announcement," Lewis said.

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder in which the normal electrical activity of the brain is disrupted due to a genetic condition, brain injury, or other health problem — although the cause can be unknown. Epilepsy results in unpredictable seizures, as well as abnormal behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of consciousness. Epilepsy affects over 3.4 million people in the US and over 60 million worldwide.

"Photosensitive epilepsy" is a form of epilepsy in which seizures are triggered by visual stimuli, like flashing lights. It affects about 3% of people with the disorder.

Phanie / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

The seizures can be triggered by exposure to certain types or patterns of light, according to Epilepsy Foundation. Examples include strobe lights or visual fire alarms, flickering images on televisions or computer screens, video games with rapid or alternating colors, or certain patterns with contrasting colors.

Photosensitive epilepsy is more common in children and teens than it is in adults. These light exposures won't always trigger a seizure, and it depends on many factors such as the brightness of the light, background contrast, and the distance between the light source and the viewer. However, experts recommend that these individuals avoid all flashing lights if possible.

Some people do not have seizures from light exposure but instead experience other symptoms, like headaches, nausea, or dizziness. These people do not have epilepsy; they may have another condition such as photosensitive migraines.

On Friday, Disney asked theaters showing Incredibles 2 to notify patrons of the potential problem, and several of these warning signs were posted to Twitter.

Thank you to everyone for retweeting this, writing articles, and signal boosting my message! My goal of having signs at the ticket counter was reached so that people can be warned about the flashing lights in Incredibles 2. https://t.co/JljozWlojd

On Friday Disney asked theaters that are showing the film to notify patrons of the scene in question. As a result, many theaters around the country have placed paper signs at the box office to warn viewers.

"I'm very grateful and cannot thank Disney enough for listening and putting up the signs," said Lewis.

The Epilepsy Foundation has released a statement asking Disney and Pixar to extend the warnings to the movie's website and all relevant social media channels.

"We stand with our epilepsy warriors and their families as they voice their concerns about the movie and appreciate the efforts some theaters have already made to post warning signs for people waiting to see the movie," the Epilepsy Foundation wrote in the statement. They also requested that Disney and Pixar post warnings on all their digital channels, including websites and social media posts, to alert viewers that the movie contains multiple scenes with flashing lights and warn of the potential effects for people with photosensitive epilepsy or migraines.
Pixar / Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy of Everett

"We stand with our epilepsy warriors and their families as they voice their concerns about the movie and appreciate the efforts some theaters have already made to post warning signs for people waiting to see the movie," the Epilepsy Foundation wrote in the statement.

They also requested that Disney and Pixar post warnings on all their digital channels, including websites and social media posts, to alert viewers that the movie contains multiple scenes with flashing lights and warn of the potential effects for people with photosensitive epilepsy or migraines.

UPDATE

This story was updated to clarify Disney's response.

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