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Aurora Families Slam 'Disgusting' Theater Offer

Invitation to re-opening of shooting site in bad taste, they say

All many families affected by the mass shooting in an Aurora, Colo., theater wanted was their loved ones by their side. Instead, Cinemark USA Inc. sent them an invitation to the reopening of the theater where those loved ones were injured or killed by a gunman.

Less than six months after that gunman open fired on moviegoers attending a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," CInemark is ready to reopen a refreshed (and slightly reconfigured) Aurora Century 16. It was there that 12 people were killed and 58 more injured while they sat in their seats.

Cinemark is planning to reopen the theater Jan. 18, and invited some of the families of the victims in an email delivered just two days after Christmas, according to CNN.

"During the holiday, we didn't think any one or any thing could make our grief worse," the invited families stated in a public letter to the theater, republished by KUSA in Denver. "But you, Cinemark, have managed to do just that by sending us an invitation two days after Christmas inviting us to attend the re-opening of your theater in Aurora where our loved ones were massacred. Thanks for making what is a very difficult holiday season that much more difficult.

"Timing is everything, and yours is awful."

The select families were invited to a remembrance celebration followed by a movie on the eve of the theater re-opening, and were encouraged to "reserve your tickets," according to the letter.

"Our family members will never be on this Earth with us again, and a movie ticket and some token words from people who didn't care enough to reach out to us, nor respond when we reached out to them to talk, is appalling," the letter said.

Some of the victim families have sued Cinemark claiming the theater chain did not do enough to protect moviegoers from such a happening. It's reported that the shooter used the rear emergency exit of the theater to move in his guns and equipment, shielded by the darkness of the theater itself.

That lawsuit may have made Cinemark executives skittish about talking to the other families, even if they are not a part of the lawsuit. But those families don't feel that's an excuse.

"Thank you for reminding us how your quest for profits has blinded your leadership, and made you so callous as to be oblivious to our mental anguish," the letter said. The families will use "every social media tool at our disposal to ask the other victims to ask their friends and family to honor us by boycotting the killing field of our children."

Cinemark didn't release a response to the letter, but last September, company president Tim Warner told Aurora mayor Steve Hogan that "it will be our privilege to reopen the theater. We pledge to reconfigure the space and make the theater better than ever."

Warner's response came from what Hogan had relayed was an overwhelming desire from his constituents to see the theater reopen, according to the Denver Post. At the time, Cinemark had hoped to reopen by the end of 2012.

Cinemark is based in Plano, Texas, and boasts more than 430 locations worldwide. The company reported a profit of $47.4 million in the same quarter the shooting happened, up from $46.9 million the year before. While the company did boast a small increase in the number of patrons to its theaters compared to a year earlier, its release announcing financial results had no mention of the shooting.

About the Author

Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus and is a veteran print journalist. He lives in Tampa, Fla.
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