Aurora Shooting Victims' Families Outraged By Theater's Reopening Event
As unbelievable as it seems, the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado where 12 people were murdered in July is reopening this month. The Cinemark Century 16 theater, where James Holmes opened fire during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, has been shuttered since the July 20 shooting, and as the theater chain prepares to handle the delicate process of opening back up for business, they've managed to step on the toes of the victims' families.
The company actually hasn't been in touch at all with the families since the shooting, according to Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed. Speaking to The Los Angeles Times, Phillips was furious to receive an e-mail invitation on December 27 to attend the theater's grand-reopening:
"For most of us, we have not been able to set foot in a theater and may never be able to," Phillips told the Los Angeles Times. "It’s like they are trying to use us as PR, as if to say, 'See, they have forgiven us; you should too and come to our theater.' "
15 family members sent a letter to the Cinemark headquarters this week and called the reopening event "disgusting," threatening to encourage others to boycott the chain. The theater is offering free movies from January 18-20 after the reopening, with Chief Executive Tim Warner writing in a letter to Aurora mayor Steve Hogan that it was "our privilege to restore the Aurora Century Theater and to be a vital part of this remarkable community.”
As much as he may have stumbled in trying to turn the theater's reopening into any kind of celebration, it's hard not to feel bad for Warner, who's in a truly impossible position. Like any location of a mass tragedy, the Century 16 theater has to reopen eventually, and the combination of honoring the victims while also promoting a business is going to be icky no matter how they play it. I can't blame the victims' families for being upset, but I also can't blame Cinemark for trying to be sensitive-- and inevitably stumbling on the way there. Ideally they'll reopen as quietly and respectfully as possible, and join in on the impossible task of returning to life as normal after something so horrible.
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