A Perth cinema has played superhero to a young boy with autism after agreeing to show a special screening of Avengers: Endgame on his birthday.
Josh Chalmers, who turned eight on Sunday, got the gift of his dreams when Perth Playhouse put on the autism-friendly show so the young comic book fan could celebrate with his heroes.
Atia Chalmers, Josh’s mum, asked the cinema for the relaxed Sunday evening screening and was delighted when they said yes.
She was even more thrilled when bosses told her they would be changing their policy to have an autism-friendly film show every Sunday from now on, instead of on Thursdays as had previously been the case.
Atia is now calling on other cinema chains to follow suit and to put on regular films at times that are convenient to families like hers.
She said: “Josh described his weekend in his school journal as “the best weekend ever” and chose his trip to see Avengers: Endgame as being the best part of his day.
“As a family we are big film lovers. So to not be able to take our son to the biggest film of the year was very frustrating because cinemas don’t cater for autism families.
Josh at the cinema on his birthday“The response has been phenomenal. People have said that they can take their kids to the cinema now.
“Our small local cinema can do this so why can’t the big cinema chains do it too?”
Angie Ferguson, chief executive of Autism Support Perth, said the response from the Playhouse to Atia and Josh’s request was a huge step forward for the 750 families on its books.
She said: “Atia has done an amazing job and it’s so nice that this has come off the back of Josh.
“The Playhouse deserves massive praise as well.
“The Playhouse have moved away from just ticking a box to actually getting it right so that 750 families will actually benefit from these changes.”
Anna Keighley-Robb, of Perth Playhouse, said the cinema had previously put on relaxed screenings on Thursdays but accepted that this wasn’t always convenient for busy families.
“The reason we changed the times is because it needs to be more accessible for people to come and enjoy a film and for families to come and enjoy some quality time with each other,” she said.
“It wasn’t working for them on a Thursday so we’ve changed it to a Sunday.
“Doing something for the community is what we want as a local cinema.”