Families of Aurora victims reject theater promotion
The Colorado venue is reopening with a memorial for those killed in last summer's massacre. Relatives call the move a 'thinly veiled publicity ploy.'
Was it a sincere attempt to express sympathy or a tone-deaf public relations event that backfired?
Some relatives of those killed during last summer’s movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., are enraged at the theater's parent company -- and have organized a boycott against Cinemark USA (CNK).
What triggered this outrage, according to a letter by the families, was an invitation from the company inviting them and a guest "to a special evening of remembrance" later this month at the movie theater's reopening. A dozen people were killed and at least 58 others wounded on July 20, when a gunman opened fire during a midnight screening of the latest Batman film.
The invitation also reminded family members to reserve their tickets to the event.
"During the holiday we didn't think anyone or anything could make our grief worse but you, Cinemark, have managed to do just that," says the letter. "Thanks for making what is a very difficult holiday season that much more difficult. Timing is everything and yours is awful."
The letter says Cinemark, based in Texas, never reached out to the victims' loved ones after the tragedy, and refused repeated invitations to speak one on one with the families.
"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," it continues. "We, the families, recognize your thinly veiled publicity ploy for what it is: A great opportunity for you to distance yourselves and divert public scrutiny from your culpability in this massacre.”
Apart from the apparent insensitivity of the Cinemark invitation, observers say, is pending litigation against the theater chain. Several lawsuits have been filed against Cinemark, on claims security at the Aurora movie theater was lax on the night of the shootings.
And that litigation "makes it very difficult for all parties to determine what is the right thing to do to express condolences and help with the healing," says Mac Clouse, professor of finance at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business.
"Unfortunately, I am sure that Cinemark’s responses and lack of responses have been completely choreographed by their legal people, both internal and external," he added. "Anything they say and do can potentially show up in any future legal proceedings."
Cinemark has not responded to the letter from the victims’ families.
The Denver Post says that, a month after the shootings, a survey by the city of Aurora found a majority of residents there wanted the theater to reopen -- with Aurora’s mayor calling the cinema "a valued part of our community."
While there may be some reluctance by local movie-goers to return to the site of the Aurora massacre, Clouse expects Cinemark's overall business will not be affected by the boycott. Cinemark is one of the largest movie theater chains in the U.S., with nearly 300 theaters and 4,000 screens in 39 states.
That being said, Clouse calls the Cinemark remembrance event a bad idea and its timing "awful."
"All of the families' sadness was reopened by [the recent school shootings in Connecticut], and this was the first Christmas without the loved ones," he said. "The boycott is understandable and is one of the things the families can do to express their feelings about Cinemark."
More on Money Now
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages posted solid gains ahead of tomorrow's policy directive from the Federal Open Market Committee. The S&P 500 rallied 0.8%, while the Russell 2000 (+0.3%) could not keep pace with the benchmark index.
Equity indices hovered near their flat lines during the first two hours of action, but surged in reaction to reports from the Wall Street Journal concerning tomorrow's FOMC statement. Specifically, Fed watcher Jon Hilsenrath indicated that the statement ... More
More Market News
An interest rate tease in The Wall Street Journal sends the market into an optimistic tizzy -- but one that doesn't end quite at the top.
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'