the rise of skywalker flashing lights

While the pop culture landscape eagerly awaits the impending release of Disney and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the studio has notified the Epilepsy Foundation and exhibitors around the world that the highly-anticipated new film contains multiple sequences that could trigger seizures in audience members who have photosensitive epilepsy. Read their warning message below.

It’s rare that studios issue warnings like this, but perhaps because of the Star Wars franchise’s immense popularity and the knowledge that hordes of people are going to see the film in theaters, Disney is encouraging theaters to take the precautionary measure of alerting patrons about potential problems some viewers could encounter. The Hollywood Reporter says Disney sent the following message to theater owners around the globe:

“Out of an abundance of caution, we recommend that you provide at your venue box office and online, and at other appropriate places where your customers will see it, a notice containing the following information: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker contains several sequences with imagery and sustained flashing lights that may affect those who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy or have other photosensitivities.”

Naturally, the studio doesn’t specify any additional details about the sequences – or even provide any indication as to when they might happen during the course of the film. THR says that about 3% of people with epilepsy can experience seizures when exposed to imagery of flashing lights with certain visual patterns, and that type of imagery can also trigger migraines in photosensitive viewers.

Last year, Disney came under fire for not preemptively warning audiences about a similar sequence in Incredibles 2 involving a fight scene between Elastigirl and the villainous Screenslaver. This time, the studio reached out ahead of time to the Epilepsy Foundation and exhibitors to avoid any controversy.

In the U.K., all television broadcasts are required to pass the Harding test, which examines visual content for potential sequences that may trigger seizures in photosensitive audiences. If a scene fails the test, it can be tweaked to reduce the number of flashes or the intensity of the coloration until it receives a passing grade. There’s word yet if Disney plans to alter the scene in any way for the film’s home video release. I couldn’t find any evidence that any changes were made to Incredibles 2, so an alteration here seems equally unlikely.

Update: A reader pointed out that Disney did, in fact, alter the home video release of Incredibles 2 to lessen the intensity of the flashing in that fight sequence. You can read more about that here.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in theaters on December 20, 2019.

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