Aurora shooting: Families of victims blast letter from Cinemark inviting them to reopening

Aurora victims thumb.jpeg
Aurora families
This was not the holiday letter that families of the Aurora theater shooting victims wanted to receive.

Two days after Christmas, the families of those killed on July 20 received a letter inviting them to return to the site of the massacre for a Cinemark reopening event. They've since responded with a letter blasting the invite as a deeply insensitive marketing ploy, saying they will be encouraging a boycott.

On July 20 suspect James Holmes, who was in court today, allegedly entered the Aurora Century 16 theater and opened fire, killing twelve and injuring dozens more. Since the tragedy, Cinemark, the owner of the theater, has faced lawsuits from injured victims arguing that the company could have taken precautions against the crime.

Aurora families, presser 2.jpeg
Sam Levin
Aurora families at their first press conference this past summer.

Cinemark has been in contact with the victims and their families before, working through the Arapahoe County District Attorney's office, letting them know that the company was open to the possibility of having them visit the site if they wanted to. Cinemark had announced in September that it planned to reopen the theater; the date has since been set for January 17.

And now Cinemark is formally inviting the families to return to the theater for some kind of "remembrance" event timed with the Century 16 reopening. Sent on December 27, the invite reached the families via the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, a group that has come under fire for its role in the process of disbursing donations after the shooting. The invitation (which was forwarded to us by family members) was included in an e-mail from Nancy Lewis, COVA's executive director:

As you may be aware, the Century Aurora theater will be reopening in January, Cinemark, the owner of the theater, would like to invite you and a quest to a special evening of remembrance on Thursday, January 17 at 5 P.M. A movie will be shown following the remembrance ceremony.

Please reserve tickets for you and your guest by responding to this e-mail. E-mail your name and the name of you guest and your address to nansutton@aol.com by January 8, 2013. Your tickets will be mailed to you. Please let me know of any special seating or accessibility requirements you or your guest may have.

The e-mail also notes that counselors will be available to victims and their family members.

"I was horrified," says Sandy Phillips, the mother of Jessica Ghawi, one of the twelve who died on July 20. "I opened up the e-mail from COVA and [thought]...why would you even think we would want to attend the reopening of a theater where our children were murdered?"

She continues, "It was astounding to me...This is the organization for victim assistance -- they should be watching out for us, but instead they collaborated with Cinemark to do an invitation...thinking that we would want to come back to that place.... To me, it was just a PR ploy from Cinemark, to say, 'Oh, look we care so much!'"

Phillips and fourteen other family members signed onto a letter that they sent back to Cinemark, expressing their outrage.

Continue for more on the families' response to Cinemark.



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24 comments
Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

If you were the owner of the theater what would you do ? Take FULL responsibility as so many are expecting ? My heart goes out to ALL non-law-enforcement involved,  but COME ON !?! The theater is the scapegoat for the HORRIFIC, MURDEROUS, REACTION by APD  !

Question, are ANY of the theater employees being criminally charged ? Were ANY show attendees killed or injured by the action of ANY theater employee ? 

This ENDLESS negative BLAMING OF THE THEATER works quite effectively for keeping ANY & ALL attention from the 'war-like' tactics used by APD !!!

Chris Estus
Chris Estus

If they hadn't invited them someone would have been upset about that.

Cindy Zavala
Cindy Zavala

I know someone who was working there that horrible night. While she is apprehensive about returning to work, she needs her job and feels she doesn't want evil to win. I disagree. I say bulldoze it and make a memorial park. They may have remodeled the front of the building, but the inside bad karma will remain forever.

D.c. Small
D.c. Small

Yeah, I wouldn't want to go back if I were one of those families.

D.c. Small
D.c. Small

Yeah, I wouldn't want to go back if I were one of those families.

Faycless
Faycless

Boycotting that theatre.

Jennifer Wohletz
Jennifer Wohletz

Yeah--just demolish that theater and turn it into a parking lot. Bad juju.

Craig Hammersmith
Craig Hammersmith

True. You can't always please everyone. Particularly people whose family and friends were recently shot dead in a coldblooded ambush at a Cinemark cinema. "We're reopening, stop in and say hi! Catch a screening of 'Skyfall' on Cinemark's dime! Hope ya like gunfire!"

Sheilah Davis
Sheilah Davis

Cinemark is a cinema. It is not in the business of psychotherapy or victim advocacy. I'm sure they meant well with their well-meaning gesture of good will.

J Patrick McDuff
J Patrick McDuff

Unfortunately, Cinemark made a good faith effort to reach out to everyone. Too bad you can't please all the people all of the time!

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

Cinemark might as well have offered 50% off (and a free t-shirt) for all new AR-15 purchases between January 3rd and January 10th.... Excludes residents of Hawaii and Connecticut, offer only valid on business days starting with a "W," and only if you can provide proof (at time of purchase) that you are a distant relative of Alexander Hamilton's second cousin on his mother's side.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Chris Estus  Great point . APD need it's scapegoat !

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@Cindy Zavala As long as you can pay for the purchase of the property and the capital expenditure, I say YOU should go for it.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@Sheilah Davis If you're in their situation, it's "no-win." They handled it poorly, and the haters are all over it. AFAIC, they should be held responsible for disarming anyone who would have been armed, but that's about it.

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