Nearly six months after the mass shooting in Aurora, Cinemark, the owner of the theater where the massacre occurred, is reopening the site to the public on Friday, sparking backlash from victims' families. More debate could arise about some of the movies being screened for free over the weekend -- including violent films such as The Bourne Legacy, Taken 2 and Red Dawn. See the full list below.
The controversy around the reopening of Century 16, which a source tells us will now be called the Century Aurora, stems from a letter Cinemark sent to victims' families last month, inviting them to return to theater for a remembrance ceremony.
Nine family members of the twelve individuals killed on July 20 sent a harshly worded letter back, blasting Cinemark for such an insensitive invitation, which they said amounted to nothing more than a thinly veiled publicity ploy. Cinemark officials have not commented on that letter. The theater has also been slapped with at least eight lawsuits from victims.
Still, the theater is pushing forward with an event on Thursday, which Governor John Hickenlooper will attend. Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan is expected to be there as well, and tickets are being provided to families and first responders. Victims and their families were also given the opportunity to revisit the theater yesterday and today as well, the Denver Post reports.
At this point, there are also few details about the fate of auditorium nine, where the dozen deaths and scores of injuries took place. But it's likely that it has been substantially changed.
Officials say there will be free screenings open to the public Friday through Monday this holiday weekend -- and people can pick up tickets in person at the theater starting Friday.
A rep tells us that there will be a movie shown at the theater tomorrow night, too, but the selection hasn't been announced yet.
As of this writing, Cinemark's Aurora website doesn't have any movies listed -- just a small note saying there will be free movies this weekend.
But a source confirmed to us this morning that these movies, first listed in a recent Post story, will be screening. Here's the list:
The Bourne Legacy Cloud Atlas Finding Nemo 3D Flight Frankenweenie Here Comes the Boom Hotel Transylvania Ice Age: Continental Drift Pitch Perfect Red Dawn Taken 2
As Cinemark has prepped for the reopening, there have been questions about what kinds of movies would be appropriate to show in these first days, given that such violent acts took place at the July 20 midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, when suspect James Holmes opened fire. In expressing her frustration with Cinemark's invite, Sandy Phillips, mother of victim Jessica Ghawi, recently asked, "Are they going to show us The Dark Knight so we can see the whole thing?"
The absence of The Dark Knight from the roster doesn't mean the program is violence-free. According to this review of Taken 2, about a former CIA agent (Liam Neeson) taking on bad guys with a taste for torture and kidnapping, 24 people die in the film. The Bourne Legacy, starring Jeremy Renner, follows in the footsteps of three Bourne movies featuring Matt Damon that collectively included 22 deaths as calculated by the website MovieBodyCounts.com. As for the remake of Red Dawn, one critic points out that the number of deaths in the 2012 version is lower than in the 1984 original, in which an estimated 118 people died. But given that the movie concerns American teens fighting off a North Korean invasion, there's plenty of bloodshed.
How appropriate are the theater's choices?
The Bourne Legacy
Here Comes the Boom
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