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Disney Warns New 'Star Wars' Movie May Cause Seizures for Those With Photosensitive Epilepsy

The Walt Disney Company has issued a warning that certain scenes in the newest film in the Star Wars series, The Rise of Skywalker, may cause seizures in moviegoers affected by photosensitive epilepsy, Deadline reported.

On Friday, Disney issued a letter addressed to theater owners about the new film and the risk of seizure it may pose to some viewers.

"Out of an abundance of caution," the statement read, "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."

The corporate giant is in collaboration with the Epilepsy Foundation, a non-profit. In a press release published Friday, the Epilepsy Foundation thanked Disney for issuing its statement.

According to Mayo Clinic, epilepsy is a disorder of the central nervous system that causes abnormal brain activity. An estimated 3.4 million people in the United States who have some form of epilepsy, which is a little more than one percent of the country's total population. Among its symptoms are seizures, defined by Mayo Clinic as a "sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain."

About three percent of people with epilepsy can have seizures triggered by "exposure to flashing lights at certain intensities or certain visual patterns," according to information provided by the Epilepsy Foundation. This is known as photosensitive epilepsy.

In its statement, the foundation advised people who are sensitive to lights to take precautions prior to seeing the film. For example, they could ask someone else to see the movie before them, and then see the film with that person so they can be alerted before scenes with bright, flashing lights come on. Lastly, the foundation suggested that a person sensitive to lights could teach their friend "the three simple steps of seizure first aid — Stay, Safe, Side — so that they can assist if [they] have a seizure."

The Rise of Skywalker, set to be released in theaters across the United States on December 20, is the third and final installment in the recent Star Wars trilogy, which depicts events that take place more than 30 years after the final film Return of the Jedi. The first film in the current trilogy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was released in 2015, three years after Disney purchased the Star Wars brand from creator George Lucas.

The Rise Of Skywalker Global Press Conference
Actors, writers, producers, and directors participate in the global press conference for "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" at the Pasadena Convention Center on December 04, 2019 in Pasadena, California. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty
Disney Warns New 'Star Wars' Movie May Cause Seizures for Those With Photosensitive Epilepsy | U.S.