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Families Of Aurora Movie Theater Shooting Victims Reject Theater’s “Digusting” Offer Of Free Movie

Thomas Cooper, Getty Images

It’s great to see businesses rally together to help out after a national tragedy. But no one is too pleased with what this Century 16 theater is doing for the families of victims of a mass shooting.

The Aurora, Colorado movie theater that was the site of a horrific mass shooting in July of 2012 is extending an invitation to the shooting victim’s families to their grand re-opening. However, some of the families are staunchly refusing the invitation, calling the offer “disgusting.”

Relatives of those killed at a Colorado movie theater rejected an invitation Wednesday to attend its planned reopening, calling it a “disgusting offer” that came at a terrible time — right after the first Christmas without their loved ones.

The parents, grandparents, cousins and widow of nine of the 12 people killed in the July shooting said they were asked to attend an “evening of remembrance” followed by a movie when the Aurora theater reopens on Jan. 17. They released a letter sent to the theater’s owner, Cinemark, in which they criticized the Plano, Texas-based company for not previously reaching out to them to offer condolences and refusing to meet with them without lawyers.

“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.

Cinemark had no immediate comment.

The company announced last month that it would reopen the theater on Jan. 17 and invite people affected by the attack and other guests, a move that Aurora officials said has strong support in the community. Gov. John Hickenlooper plans to attend.

The Aurora Sentinel reported that plans filed with the city call for turning the theater into one of the company’s “extreme digital cinema” sites that feature massive screens. It’s not clear from the plans whether there will be a memorial to the victims.

The invitation was emailed to families by the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, which said the offer was being sent on behalf of Cinemark.

Normally, I would have no problem with a business trying to reach out to victims’ families. But offering a free movie at the theater their loved ones were killed at, just a few days after their first Christmas without them? That seems a little callous to me. If this theater really wants to help these families out, why not start a memorial fund at the grand opening or put up a plaque or something in memory of the victims?

I will say that the theater should not be held responsible for the tragedy. All the fault lies with the madman who killed those people. But if you’re going to make the effort to try and help out, don’t turn it into some cheap PR stunt. That’s just tacky and thoughtless.

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