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AMCs and PSAs… we’ve not won yet.

*** AMC’s Ryan Noonan contacted me directly to say that they are still not planning on running the ad. He cannot divulge any details. He cannot answer any questions to help me figure out why misinformation is out there regarding the ads running at AMC. He can only say that the ads will not run.

If you see these ads running at any theaters, please let me know. I am still digging to find out if they are still running at non-AMC theaters. ***

Sunday afternoon, the internet kicked some serious ass. We told AMC that we are not okay with them airing a fear-mongering anti-vax PSA by SafeMinds.

AMC responded:

Ryan Noonan, Official Rep, replied 1 day ago
Thank you all for your feedback. I know there’s a lot of passion shared on this thread today and I apologize for the short delay in response here.

I want to assure everyone that AMC has no plans to air any ad or Public Service Announcement about the vaccination topic, nor has any ad or PSA about the issue been shown on our screens.

Again, I appreciate you all taking the time to share your thoughts. I hope this clarifies the issue.

And the world so loved AMC and we rejoiced.

But we rejoiced too soon.

Yesterday, I spoke with a reporter from WGN News. I told her about how we bullied AMC into submission. Unfortunately, she said that she would not be reporting anything about the PSA if they weren’t showing it. Apparently “AMC not showing ad” is not news… obviously. And reporting our skeptical Hulk smash only serves to give the anti-vax groups free, undeserved publicity.

So, I dubbed myself an unsung hero and called it a day.

This morning however, I received word that this ad is, in fact, still airing in AMC theaters.

Right now, I ask you to demand answers from AMC. They told us they would not air this PSA. They can be reached via Twitter at @AMCHelps, Facebook: “like” them then write a status update to complain, tagging them by typing @AMCHelps (ex: “So @AMCHelps said they’d be pulling the bullshit SafeMinds ad. It’s still airing. WTF?”), add your complaint to the PSA’s thread at AMC’s GetSatisfaction, call or email your local theater.

Also, take the time to contact NationalCinemedia, who are the distributors of the ad. If AMC cannot make this decision, NationalCinemedia can.

We will Boycott AMC, Regal and Cinemark theaters if we do not get the answer we want.

At this time, it would be appropriate to contact your local skeptics and tentatively organize demonstrations. It’s important to have a plan should this ad still air. We cannot stand for this.

Even if your local theater does not air the ad, if they are a member of AMC, Regal or Cinemark (and if they do not pull the ad) you should still be there. We should stand firmly against the corporations, not just against the individual theaters.

Now. Get to work.

***Update: Ryan Noonan of AMC still maintains that the ads have not and will not run and will be contacting me regarding this matter. More info to come. ***


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. Hm – It says that Twitter account doesn’t exist. And the Find People link on Twitter is busted. Can someone help me out with the correct link?

  2. @Elyse: Good on ya for vigilance! (I’m Australian now)
    Just to get the details straight, is there a new list of theaters? Also, who is the source that says the ads are still running?
    Just want to get my documentation straight if I need to bust out the facts.

  3. Contacted via Twitter, Facebook, and GetSatisfaction. Let us know if any Chicago-area protests are coalescing.

  4. I think we need someone FAMOUS (hint hint, Elyse) to get on the news and drop some SCIENCE on AMC and NCM.

    I’m extra peeved now because I thought, with the problem taken care of, I could go see Harry Potter on an IMAX screen at a nearish AMC theater. I’ve half a mind to demand my money back!

    … of course, that’s also because when I got to the theater, I realized that no-one was checking/tearing tickets and I could easily have gone in without paying at all. At the time, I said “it’s OK, I can stomach the loss,” but NOW that my money is an unnecessary boost to my adversaries, I feel duped! Grr.

  5. I’m only halfway kidding — we should just channel our inner “Rocky Horror” selves, and if one of those ads appears on screen, it’s time to break out the toilet paper and throw it!

    Anyway, just incredible. And I was so looking forward to seeing HP7. :-(

  6. @Elyse: Great!

    On a related note, I’m glad for once that news is primarily TV-driven in that, had print still been the dominant form, you’d have to say “I’m on getting IN the news,” which sounds vaguely dirty.



  7. We should temper our responses until we get solid info on this. The reporter at WGN told us “WE found out AMC is still running it….we are looking into it.” That’s all we have right now.

  8. Ditto on Dalek Lama: I’d really like to hear something a little more solid on this before we unleash the Internet hordes on AMC. Has someone actually SEEN the ad running in an AMC theater?

  9. @krelnik:

    Our source is good. We at least have enough information to ask AMC what the hell is going on and to tentatively organize.

    Additionally, ABC should have updated their story if they learned that the spots were pulled. And both AoA and SafeMinds have been suspiciously silent on the issue.

    If my donors raised thousands of dollars to run a PSA in theaters and we contracted the spots and they were distributed and ready to air, if they got pulled because of a bunch of a self-righteous opposition, it would be a thing.

    I don’t think AoA and such are less passionate about their paid PSAs being shown than I am about them not being shown.

  10. I’m not saying I can’t be wrong… but there’s enough reason to believe I’m not.

    And we don’t have a lot of time to wait to take action. These are slated to show in 2 days.

  11. I’m going to do something crazy during my break and call the local AMC theater and ask the manager if it is running. They probably won’t know, but it’s worth a shot. I’ll let you know what I find out.

  12. I posted a chastising tweet mentioning @AMCHelps and received the following response.

    AMC’s position has not changed. We have not and will not run any ad about this topic. ^RN

    I responded by asking for an explanation of reports to the contrary, but it would be helpful if I had some information I could source.


  13. Phil Plait just got a Twitter response from AMC saying: @AMCHelps: @BadAstronomer We have not and will not run any ad about this topic. ^RN

    Anyone else get anything?

  14. The manager at my local AMC theater was unavailable. I told the person aswering the phone what it was about and asked if the manager might be available later. She said that they had been contacted about this issue a couple of times already (didn’t realise there was that much of a skeptical comunity out Rockford, IL way) and that she would indeed be available later.

    I am going to call back later, maybe since they have already had the question asked they’ll have an answer.

    We’ll see.

  15. So AMC claims over and again on Facebook that they will not run the ads. It seems like our complaints may have worked (assuming they are telling the truth). Hey! We might have saved a life or two!
    That’s cool, right?

  16. @mrmisconception: The manager certainly should know whether the ad is running. I was the projectionist at the local theater for several years, and we always got a memo from the film distributor that listed the previews/ads/PSAs that were to be spliced into the front of the films.

  17. Hey everyone,

    I figured I’d sign up here so I could address the discussion here as well. As it’s been stated above, our position on this issue never changed. We have not run any ads about this issue and will not be running any ads.

    Derek, to your point, I’m afraid that’s where I can’t help much, as I’m not aware of any other statements coming from AMC. I put out our original statement on Sunday on a number of different online channels. I was offline for a few hours this morning and was as confused as anyone when I saw the activity, because our position had not changed.

    I just want to reiterate, AMC is not playing any ad about this issue on any of our screens.


  18. Dear Elyse & fellow skeptics:

    The 30-second ad has been up on YouTube since October 8

    Human memory being what it is, I would not take somebody’s word that “they saw it in a movie theater”.

    Minimum standard of evidence: a bootleg-style video showing the Safeminds PSA plus at least 180 seconds on either side of the Safeminds PSA.

    Even better — a longer video showing the AMC standard pre-show stuff (you know, flogging the food; turn off your cell phone & etc.)

  19. Thank you , Ryan, for reiterating that those dangerous ads will not be played.

    You do know that all hell will break out if any of us, or the many lurkers here, see that misinformation in an AMC theater. And I hope most of us know the difference between seeing a video on YouTube versus the full big screen experience!

    And I promise to put my empty popcorn bag and drink container in an appropriate receptacle, and not on the floor.

  20. @RyanatAMC: Hi Ryan, I got your Facebook response too, but couldn’t figure out how to reply to it (epic geek fail.) Anyway, thanks for putting up with us if we’ve all completely got the wrong end of the stick on this, and thanks for keeping up the pressure on the powers that be if that’s what happened.

    For some reason, no one seems to be able to post details about what is going on behind the scenes, but it sounds like it is time to declare victory again.

    I’d really prefer that you had some fact-based PSAs from some reputable source like the USPHS or the CDC about vaccinations, but will settle for AMC just staying clear of it.

    BTW, if you haven’t picked up on it, movie theaters are an ideal environment for spreading communicable diseases, and it probably is in AMC’s best interests to make sure your customers are vaccinated against flu and don’t get sick and die :-(

    P.S. Saw Harry Potter at the AMC in Burlington, MA Friday night, had a great time (apart from eating too much popcorn), and I’m glad I don’t need to feel guilty about it. :-)

  21. Age of Autism (AoA) has responded. The “managing editor” is Kim Stagliano.

    Do try to leave a comment there, but be aware that AoA has a …. draconian robust comment moderation procedure.

    Managing Editor’s Note: The next time an AMC theatre hosts an “autism movie” featuring dimmed lights and lowered sound to accommodate the hundreds of autistic children and their families who will attend (not THIS family, we will no longer patronize AMC) I suggest they review the symptoms of mercury poisoning and match them to the behaviors they see in their theatre. You can express your opinion HERE. We suggest you use your full name and state calmly why you think informed medical choice is important for the safety of AMC patrons and their families. Thank you. From the Coalition for SafeMinds:

    SafeMinds was notified late yesterday afternoon that AMC Theaters has decided to block the SafeMinds Public Service Announcement (PSA) on influenza vaccines with mercury. The PSA alerts parents and pregnant women of the presence of mercury in most influenza vaccines and the ample availability of mercury-free alternatives. The CDC has declined to give a preference for the mercury-free versions, so it is important that the public is aware of its options. AMC’s advertising representative had reviewed and approved the PSA to run in AMC cinemas over the Thanksgiving weekend. A small group of vocal vaccine proponents dismissive of mercury concerns learned of the PSA and bombarded the AMC website, leading to the company’s decision to prevent its release. SafeMinds thanks its supporters who viewed the PSA and contributed to its efforts to educate the public to avoid unnecessary mercury exposure. Mercury in all forms is dangerous, especially to the developing fetus and infants, as referenced on the PSA website SafeMinds will continue its mission to educate the public on this important healthcare topic.

    If you do decide to try a comment despite AoA’s limitation on comments, do make a copy of your comment and forward it to “Silenced by Age of Autism”

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