Colorado shooting victims' families reject Cinemark theater reopening invitation

Families call invite to theater re-opening “disgusting”

Author: Tim Gerber , Reporter,
Published On: Jan 30 2013 12:21:17 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 03 2013 04:48:31 AM CST

An offer to attend the reopening of a Colorado movie theater where a lone gunman murdered 12 people as they watched the newest Batman movie has been met with disgust and a call to boycott the company that owns the theater.

Sandy Phillips's daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in the massacre and couldn't believe her eyes when she opened an email from the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance that arrived two days after Christmas.

The email was an invitation from Cinemark, the Texas based company that owns the Aurora, Colorado theater. The company was inviting Phillips and a guest to attend an "evening of remembrance" to be held at the theater on January 17 when the renovated theater is set to reopen for business.

"How could they be that insensitive and cruel," Phillips said. "We don't understand what they were thinking. It's a very poor public relations ploy and whoever's doing their PR should really probably lose their jobs "

Phillips said she was the first of the victim's family members to read the poorly timed invite and quickly reached out to the other families. She said all of them were horrified by the "disgusting" invitation.

The group decided to respond to the offer with their own letter to the management of Cinemark USA, Inc.

The families called the timing of the invitation "awful." Part of the letter reads: "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."

Phillips said she and her husband have repeatedly reached out to Cinemark but have never even had a call returned.

"Because of the way we've been treated repeatedly, not just once or twice but repeatedly since this happened, we really would like to see people boycott Cinemark," Phillips said. "There are plenty of other theaters, there are plenty of other places to support and have entertainment dollars spent. They'll never get a dime of money again."

The letter was signed by representatives of 9 of the 12 victim's family. None of the families planned to attend the event.

Lonnie Phillips, Ghawi's stepfather said the invitation was just another example of Cinemark's lack of compassion for the families and the victims.

"This thing wouldn't have been so bad if they had shown any compassion at all at the beginning," Lonnie Phillips said. "I think it just a struck a really bad nerve with the families when they come out with this invitation."

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.