I have seen two instances of a message of caution or warning being shown before a film to explain to the audience that a particular moment in the film with a special effect is meant to be part of the movie and to not be alarmed.

One example was Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) there was a message displayed at the ticket counter in my local theater and a caveat shown before the movie on screen explaining that there would be a moment of prolonged silence.

The other more recent example is First Man (2018) which displayed a message in my theater warning the audience about sounds which would occur at a certain point in the movie that sounded like fireworks going off outside.

Are these the first examples of audiences being warned about special effects to be expected in the movie or have there been previous examples of this?

4 Answers 4


Not sure if this qualifies but the 1966 movie Chamber of Horrors featured the "Fear Flasher" and "Horror Horn" to indicate that scenes were particularly graphic.

If course, this was intended as a gimmick more than anything else but....

  • That intro is SO CHEESY! Anyway, seems as though this "warning" gimmick was probably used in the 50's too, when movies were trying to distinguish themselves from TV. Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 14:41
  • 1
    This is the first that I recall being on-screen/in the movie. I remember watching this on TV in the 1970's (yes, i am that old) and havinga chuckle,
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 14:49
  • I think we might be the same age.... Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 16:58

Prior to warnings about legitimate physical reactions to special effects, movies were sometimes hyped with fake warnings. This article describes several examples, including a 1958 film that included a life insurance policy that would pay if anyone died of fright during the film.

Beginning with his 1958 film “Macabre,” [William] Castle elevated the shock-factor gimmick to an art form. As a publicity stunt for the release of “Macabre,” Castle secured a life insurance policy from Lloyd’s of London, guaranteeing $1,000 in compensation for any audience member who died of fright while viewing his film.

Cult director John Waters praised Castle’s techniques in his book “Crackpot,” beginning with the “Macabre” setup: “Mock insurance policies appeared in all the newspaper ads. Giant replicas of the actual policy hung over the marquees. Hearses were parked outside the theaters and fake nurses in uniform were paid to stand around the lobbies.

“Audiences fell hook, line, and sinker. Nobody talked about the movie, but everyone was eager to see if some jerk would drop dead and collect. Of course, no one died. But if they had, it would have been even better. A death of any kind inside the theater would only have cost Lloyd’s of London a paltry $1,000, and think of the hype that would have generated!”


I think the first instance that caused this warnings would be one of the Pokémon episode that was aired in Japan on December 16, 1997 Dennō Senshi Porygon

After people having seizures episodes were pulled out, Guidelines for animations were issued and broadcaster voluntarily show warnings before movies, games and animations. Because better safe than sued.


In 1967 Wait Until Dark had a warning that the theatre lights would be turned down to the legal limit during the last 8 minutes of the film to heighten suspense. You can see the warning in the trailer, here (around the 30 second mark):

As with other cases, a lot of this warning was an advertising gimmick, but it also warned people that they wouldn't be seated during this time, and asked them not to light cigarettes at this point of the film, either.

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