Theaters are now issuing warnings for ‘Incredibles 2′ because of a scene featuring strobe lighting.
Moviegoers of all ages were eager to see Incredibles 2 upon its release this past weekend. From children excited to see the newest Disney movie to young adults seeing the sequel to their favorite Pixar feature 14 years after the release of the first Incredibles, theaters were packed as the movie grossed $231.5 million around the world. However, one thing Disney didn’t anticipate in the chaos of the release but definitely should have is a backlash for not having a health warning for audiences.
As someone who saw the movie on June 14th, before anyone could have said anything about the contents of the film, I personally would have liked to have prepared for a scene with “over 90 seconds of continuous strobe lighting.” While I, thankfully, don’t have any health problems that would cause strobing to harm me, that’s not the case for others. That also doesn’t mean that the scene itself isn’t difficult to focus on for the rest of us. Because, you know, there are over 90 seconds with continuous strobing.
Throughout the history of cinema, various films have warranted a warning. Even the very first public screening of the Lumiere brothers’ The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station in 1896 could have used a notice that the train on the screen was not really coming towards the audience — if the legendary reactions including people jumping out of the way are any indication. Half a century later, health warnings weren’t just attached to movie releases but they became a gimmick for horror and suspense directors including Alfred Hitchcock and William Castle.
In later decades, more legitimate notices of caution have become necessary with certain movies. A prime example is 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, which was filmed by the lead actors to make the movie appear to be a documentary. However, the shaky camerawork caused several audience members to vomit before theaters started posting warnings. In 2007, four cases of illness were reported during the opening weekend of Cloverfield. The handheld camerawork gave audiences the feeling that they were “riding a roller-coaster,” and AMC Theatres put up signs stating such a possible experience.
Other warnings have been issued after the fact for intense scenes in movies from 127 Hours (due to a scene where James Franco realistically cuts his own hand off) to The Conjuring (for it being “psychologically and emotionally disturbing” and possibly requiring you to see your priest afterward). Not all posted warnings are health-related, as in the very recent case of Star Wars: The Last Jedi‘s suddenly silent sequence apparently needing to be set up for moviegoers who might presume a sound system malfunction. (For more warnings, including those about Terrence Malick’s style and Blazing Saddles‘ political incorrectness, check out Looper’s list of highlights.)
Strobe lighting can be a serious problem for moviegoers who suffer from epilepsy, however, as the effect can cause seizures. We saw such an instance of flashing lights in the birth scene in Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 result in warnings. Not only did Summit Entertainment have cinemas post notices of caution but the Epilepsy Foundation put out a warning of concern on its website. Apparently, some people discovered they were susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy for the first time while watching the YA sequel.
So why didn’t Disney think to warn anyone about the strobing in Incredibles 2? This is definitely something that they should have prepared for. When creating anything with heavy strobe lights, your number one concern should always be the audiences that are going to be repeatedly viewing the effect during the two-hour movie. Live theater productions that contain special effects warn the audience before the start of the performance in some way. The same goes for video games that contain flashy graphics. Why Disney didn’t think to put a warning ahead of Incredibles 2 is beyond me.
It took a fan on social media to break the silence on the movie’s strobe-lighting sequence, which led theaters to start warning patrons prior to seeing the film. Veronica Lewis tweeted out her own spoiler-free health alert on June 15th, the official Incredibles 2 release date:
By the end of the release weekend, most theaters had begun offering health warnings for Incredibles 2. The Epilepsy Foundation also got on board and finally, Disney officially put out a request to cinemas to post signage. The media covering these warnings also further the awareness of this concern. Now it’s our part: with the villain’s weapon being mind control, fans can expect several scenes containing flashing lights, including one rather intense scene which lasts over a minute. Those who suffer from issues with epilepsy, migraines, and other chronic illnesses should take caution.
Next time, perhaps the studios and theater owners can realize when warnings are needed before complaints, or worse, illnesses, occur.