Movies That Theaters Refused To Show

There are plenty of ways that filmmakers and
studios curb the content of their work to appeal to as large an audience as possible. Regardless, there are still some theaters
that choose not to show certain films for a variety of reasons, whether they be moral,
fiscal, or logistical. Here are a just a few examples of times theaters
backed out from showing a film. Perhaps the most popular of the recent films
to be refused by a movie theater is 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. A small theater in Iowa decided not to screen
this entry in the Star Wars franchise, but not because its owners objected to the content
of the film. Instead, it was because of an issue with Disney’s
terms. As part of their distribution deal, Disney
required theaters to screen The Last Jedi in their largest auditoriums for a minimum
of four weeks, and took a cut of 65% of ticket revenue from those screenings. That’s a high price to pay for any small-town
movie theater, especially in recent years, when plenty of potential audience members
have ditched the big screen for lots of smaller screens that stream entertainment at home. Of course, The Last Jedi still went on to
grab an international box office total of more than $1 billion, even without being shown
in the Keystone of Northeast Iowa. Not all theater cancellations are the product
of inter-company conflict. Some are a matter of public safety. The 2014 comedy The Interview, directed and
produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, was the subject of some headline-grabbing
controversy because its plot is centered around the assassination of Kim Jong-Un, the current
real-life Supreme Leader of North Korea. When word got out about the movie’s premise,
a group of hackers calling themselves the “Guardians of Peace” threatened that tragedy
would befall any theater that screened the film, causing Rogen and actor James Franco
to cancel publicity appearances. “Haters gonna hate…and ainters gona ain’t” “That is not an actual thing people say.” Not long after this announcement, Carmike,
AMC, Regal, and Cineplex all stated that they would not be screening the film, citing the
safety of their patrons as their top priority. With so many theaters shutting out The Interview,
Sony chose to pull its cinematic release altogether, though they were met with some criticism from
then-President Barack Obama for caving in to terrorist threats. In the summer of 2018, a Wisconsin theater
company chose not to screen the Slender Man film because its violence hit a little too
close to home. As many moviegoers undoubtedly already knew,
Slender Man is a fictional character born out of a meme on the Something Awful forums
in 2009, a cryptid for the modern world. In 2014, two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls,
allegedly in tribute to this fearsome fictional being, attacked one of their friends, nearly
killing her. Because of the severity and premeditated nature
of the crime, the girls were tried as adults and charged with first-degree attempted homicide. Though the victim survived, this horrifying
tragedy has surely left its mark on people from the area. The theater company chose to withhold the
screening out of respect for the victim, and given the circumstances, it’s hard to blame
them. Some film controversies are not as life-threatening
as terrorist attacks, but still manage to keep some movies out of theaters. Such is the case of a drive-in theater in
Alabama that refused to show the live action version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast after
the director revealed that the character LeFou, Gaston’s lackey, is gay. The proprietors of the cinema implied that
homosexuality was inappropriate for all-age audiences, and that it was a sin, citing their
Christian faith as first and foremost in their decision-making process. Ironically, the film also got complaints from
some viewers because, after headlines touted LeFou as Disney’s first openly gay character,
any content that might’ve dealt with that was pretty much limited to the subtext that’s
basically in every movie. “I’m not done with you yet.” “Me neither.” Whether or not LeFou can be considered an
example of decent gay representation, it is unfortunate that this theater chose to discriminate
based on the sexuality of a fictional character and send a clear message to their patrons
about who they do and do not approve of in their establishment. Perhaps unsurprisingly, since this story was
covered by national news outlets, the theater has since changed management. Religious fervor has always been a cause for
controversy in art and media, and you can see a pretty clear example of how with Monty
Python’s religious satire, Life of Brian. “By what name are you calling him?” “Ah Brian!” “We worship you o Brian, who are lord over
us all.” The British comedy classic is centered on
a young Jewish man who was born on the same day as Jesus Christ who gets mistaken for
the Messiah and is eventually crucified in a scene set to a cheerful tune about looking
on the bright side of life. It probably won’t shock you to learn that
upon its release in 1979, it was actually banned in Ireland and Norway because of its
blasphemous themes. The film itself sets out to criticize the
misunderstandings and pitfalls of modern organized religion rather than ridiculing faith, but
the movie still drew plenty of criticism for its irreverent treatment of the subject. Nether the criticism nor the ban stopped Life
of Brian from racking up an outstanding box office total in the United States and securing
a legacy among fans. A 40th anniversary reissue saw over 400 screenings
across the United States and United Kingdom. A more serious film that drew inspiration
from Christianity, and an even more intense ire from Christian movie-goers, was 1988’s
The Last Temptation of Christ. Directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese
this adaptation of the 1955 novel of the same name depicts Jesus, played by Willem Dafoe,
imagining himself entangled in situations that conflict with certain Biblical depictions
of Christ. Upon its release, an organization called Mastermedia
International incited a boycott, which led to coverage on Christian radio stations, protests,
and eventually three U.S. theater companies deciding not to screen it at all. They might’ve made the right decision. In Paris, a screening of the film was interrupted
when a fundamentalist Catholic group set fire to the theater while it was playing, injuring
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