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- The Dark Knight Rises 
- Century Aurora
- Arcata, CA: Minor Theatre Closed [2/9]
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- Sarasota, FL: Cobb CineBistro at Westfield Southgate Opening Friday, February 12, 2016 [2/5]
- Silverdale, WA: Regal Silverdale Cinemas 4 Closed [2/4]
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- Hawthorne, NY: All Westchester Saw Mill Multiplex Cinemas Closed, Car Dealership Coming [1/29]
On the night of Thursday, July 19, 2012 an armed man began shooting at people attending the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises at the Century Aurora 16 in Aurora, Colorado. When it was over, 12 people died, and 58 more were wounded, some seriously. The news is filled with stories about the shooting, the victims, and first-person accounts of the event. When I first heard the news on Friday morning, I made a conscious decision not to post anything about it here.
With the information still developing and especially as the names of those killed started to be released, it didn't seem right to even mention it. After all, this is a web site dedicated to enjoying movies, and this incident had nothing to do with enjoying movies or going to a particular movie theater to see movies. Even though the alleged shooter had reportedly dyed his hair red and called himself "The Joker," to connect this event to the movie or even the theater in which it occurred seemed unnecessary.
Now, here we are on the Monday after the event. The suspect was caught outside the theater and made his first appearance in court today. The names of those killed and some background information about them has been released. Stories of fear and chaos abound, but there are also stories of heroism. At least two people were killed while protecting loved ones from the gunfire. What's still missing is the motive behind such an atrocity, but I imagine that will come to light as the case against the suspect unfolds.
The impact of this event has been tremendous. Not only is there the personal tragedy, which is great and unimaginable, but the impact of the event was felt around the world, as premiere screenings of the movie were cancelled, security at movie theaters was tightened, and attention was taken from the release of one of the most anticipated movie releases of the summer (the final installment of one of the most successful franchises in movie history).
These reactions were prudent, and this event has probably changed how movie theaters do business, how midnight screenings are done in the future, and it even caused the entire movie industry to pause while things were sorted out (box office numbers, the meat and potatoes of the industry, were intentionally withheld from all movie studios over the weekend).
Even though the official numbers haven't been released, the fact that this happened at a movie screening (especially one that features plenty of gun violence and chaos) has affected how many people have gone to see that movie. When the final numbers are eventually released, it will be no surprise that they will be much lower than expectations. Will it be a lasting effect, or will audiences demonstrate resilience and return to theaters to see the movie this coming weekend? Only time will tell.
The Century Aurora 16 remains closed to the public, and it will probably be some time before it reopens. When it does, how many people will see a movie there? Will they feel safe? Will the memory of what happened be so etched in people's minds that the event and the theater will be indelibly linked?
I don't believe that anything can fully explain the evil that was demonstrated on Thursday night. While the storyline of the "Dark Knight" franchise involves plenty of violence, I don't believe that there is a reasonable connection to be made. Perhaps it provided an opportunity for an individual to commit the crime, but not the motive. I believe that it most likely would have happened eventually. There is evil in the world, and many times, nothing can explain it.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected personally by this tragedy. The best that can come from this is for those affected to get the help and support they need, for justice to be done, and for any positive changes to be made that can prevent (or at least minimize the possibility of) such a thing from happening again.
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