EXCLUSIVE: Newtown, the documentary that chronicles the Connecticut community in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, will continue to play at 100-plus Cinemark Theaters tonight despite the filmmakers’ initiative last week to pull the movie from the exhibition chain. Newtown filmmakers Kim Snyder and Maria Cuomo Cole’s actions came about in an effort to show solidarity with the families who were victimized by the 2012 Cinemark Century 16 Dark Knight Rises shooting in Aurora, CO.
Despite trying to negotiate with Cinemark for the past two days, we’re told the filmmakers were left with no choice but to be beholden to their contract with Fathom Events, which has Newtown playing as a one-night-only event at an estimated 500 locations nationwide including AMC, Regal, Wehrenberg, and indie theaters.
There are business practicalities that prevent Newtown from being pulled from a specific chain: Tickets were sold in advance, and the screening has been advertised for weeks at various locations. We learned that the filmmakers made a request to have proceeds from Cinemark venues donated to anti-gun-violence and victims charities, but the Fathom screening was never set up as a nonprofit event. Cinemark, we’re told, would not negotiate. Snyder and Cole as well as Cinemark declined comment for this report.
Still, the fact that Newtown is playing at Cinemark venues has greatly frustrated victims of gun violence. “It’s hypocritical and ironic that Cinemark which has fought so hard against families of the deceased and victims of gun violence who were killed, wounded and even paralyzed in their theater, would now fight so hard to show a film about gun violence,” said Sandy Phillips, whose 24-year-old daughter Jessica Ghawi was murdered in the Aurora shooting.
Twelve were killed (including an unborn baby) and 70 were physically injured. Micayla Medek, the cousin of Deadline’s Film Editor Anita Busch, was one of the 12 murdered.
“Now they are trying to use this film to make themselves look like they care? Believe me, they don’t,” said Phillips. “And they still have not done anything to make sure that their theaters are safe for patrons since Aurora.”