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Why Harvey Weinstein’s Comments On Movie Violence Matter

t100_weinsteinCOMMENTARY: The Weinstein Company’s co-chairman Harvey Weinstein made some bold statements Friday on CNN to Piers Morgan about backing away from violent content.  He spoke about his own children and how he no longer wanted to feel like a hypocrite. “The change starts here,” the man who produced Quentin Tarantino’s violent Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and D’jango Unchained told Morgan. “It has already. For me, I can’t do it. I can’t make one movie and say this is what I want for my kids and then just go out and be a hypocrite.” He added that he would still make a movie like Lone Survivor, which is a violent but accurate portrayal of our American military and their dedication to serving this country. “I’m not going to make some crazy action movie just to blow up people and exploit people just for the sake of making it,” he said. “I can’t do it.” Weinstein’s statements came only days after a fatal shooting of the father of a 3-year old in a Florida theater during a screening of Lone Survivor who was killed while texting his little girl by a supposed “good guy with a gun,” a 71 year-old former police captain.

“The insensitivity that the average person has now because of violence is because people have become so used to it. It’s an obsession as well as almost an addiction. It’s a cheap way of getting an audience, more people shot and more explosions, but it’s at the expense of the story,” said one entertainment marketer with 35 years of experience. “Abject violence has proven successful, and as long as it is, it will be produced because it’s profitable. It’s the accepted way of life rather than asking is this the right thing to do?”

Related: Harvey Weinstein Has Change of Heart On Violent Content In Films: “The Change Starts Here”

The question is, of course, how Harvey is going to reconcile being in business with Tarantino. The filmmaker has made a lot of money for the company with violent fare. And therein lies the conundrum that all studio heads and TV executives face. I’ve interviewed several executives over the past few weeks and many have said privately that they think the gun violence — especially in video games — has gotten out of control. However, they also say they have an obligation to their shareholders to make a profit and violence sells. There will always be violence in movies, just as there is violence in the Bible and in the plays of William Shakespeare. But, Weinstein is trying to tip the scales; to shift Hollywood from glorifying violence in films, to showing the true human cost and destructiveness of it.

fruitvale-station1-e1374069048695The Weinstein Company did just that when it released Fruitvale Station last year. The film does contain gun violence, but it’s told from the point of view of the victim of gun violence. And that, in itself, is unusual and powerful. When Weinstein said, “The change starts here. It has already for me,” I thought of Fruitvale. Produced by Forest Whitaker and directed by newcomer Ryan Coogler, you come to care about this boy, see him with his little girl, understand him as a father and a son before he is murdered. It was passed over by the Academy this past week for Oscar noms, but it shouldn’t have been. It did win the Producers Guild’s Stanley Kramer Award. Stanley Kramer, of course, was the patron saint of bringing social issues to the foreground with films such as Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. fruitvale2Fruitvale was the first film I saw in a theater (a large screening room) after the Aurora, CO shooting where my cousin’s daughter was among many murdered by a gunman at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, 2012. During the emergency room scene, I couldn’t bear it. I closed my eyes and sobbed. The film depicts the true face of violence — a very realistic depiction of how gun violence destroys a family. It was made for under $1M and brought in $16.7M at the box office is and still bringing in money in its ancillary markets. Read More »

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Court Rules Fox News Reporter Won’t Have To Name Sources For Aurora Shooting Coverage

By | Tuesday December 10, 2013 @ 11:51am PST

“Today’s ruling is a major win for all journalists,” Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes said this morning, after New York’s top court Fox News Channel ruled one of his reporters can’t be forced to reveal sources used to cover the Aurora, Colorado movie theater mass murder.  The New York Court of Appeals ruled 4-3 that the state’s shield law protected New York FoxNews.com reporter Jana Winter from being compelled to name sources.  Winter first reported that law officers told her James Holmes kept a diary depicting violence and gave it to his psychiatrist before 12 movie-goers were gunned down during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in July of ’12. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple counts of murder and attempted murder; prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Holmes’s lawyers wanted Winter brought to Colorado to name her sources, arguing they had violated a gag order and would not be credible trial witnesses.

Related: Aurora Theater Shooter Now Pleads Insanity

“There is a substantial likelihood that a New York reporter will be compelled to divulge the identity of a confidential source (or face a contempt sanction) if required to appear in the other jurisdiction — a result that would offend the core protections of the shield law, a New York public policy of the highest order,” the court said, overturning a mid-level appeals court’s decision, according to news reports. Read More »

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Aurora Theater Shooter Now Pleads Insanity

By | Tuesday May 7, 2013 @ 3:36pm PDT

Less than two months after a judge entered a not guilty plea for him, James Holmes now wants to claim not guilty by reason of insanity. In a not unexpected filing today, lawyers for the accused Aurora theater shooter say they will formally request the plea change at a May 13 hearing. Holmes is accused of killing 12 moviegoers during a shooting spree last summer at a Cinemark theater midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. He is charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other crimes. Read More »

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Alleged Colorado Theater Shooter Will Face Death Penalty

By | Monday April 1, 2013 @ 9:15am PDT

James Holmes originally had a not guilty plea entered for him during his arraignment last month, then last week his lawyers offered a deal in which he was willing to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life in prison without parole in order to avoid the death penalty. Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler today rejected the plea deal and said he will seek the death penalty in the case. Holmes is accused of killing 12 moviegoers during a shooting spree last summer at a Cinemark theater midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. He is charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other crimes. Brauchler, who said he spoke with victims and others related to the Aurora shooting ahead of making his decision, told the court this morning that “justice is death” just minutes into the hearing.

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Accused Colorado Theater Shooter To Offer Guilty Plea, Lawyers Say

By | Wednesday March 27, 2013 @ 2:49pm PDT

James Holmes’ attorneys said in court filings today that the Aurora movie theater shooting suspect is willing to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life in prison in order to avoid the death penalty. The defense attorneys said the case could end Monday if the Arapahoe County district attorney accepts the deal, the Denver Post reports. That is the day that prosecutors planned to announce whether they would seek the death penalty in the case. Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 70 others in a Cinemark movie theater rampage last July 20 in Aurora, CO during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. At Holmes’ arraignment on March 12 his attorneys told the judge they needed more time to respond to the charges and the judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Holmes is charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other crimes.

Related: Colorado Theater Shooting Lawsuits Against Cinemark Should Be Dismissed, Says Judge

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Not Guilty Plea For Aurora Theater Shooter

By | Tuesday March 12, 2013 @ 10:05am PDT

James Holmes‘ attorneys told a Colorado judge this morning during his arraignment hearing that they needed more time to respond to charges that their client killed 12 people and wounded 70 others in a Cinemark movie theater rampage last July 20 in Aurora, CO during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. But Arapahoe County Court Judge William Sylvester entered the plea for him, setting the stage for an August 5 trial. Holmes is charged will 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other crimes. The plea still leaves open the possibility Holmes could enter an insanity plea, The Denver Post reports. The paper said prosecutors will announce April 1 if they will seek the death penalty.

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Colorado Theater Shooting Lawsuits Against Cinemark Should Be Dismissed, Says Judge

By | Friday January 25, 2013 @ 10:18am PST

Cinemark should not be sued in civil court for the shooting rampage and deaths last July in its Aurora, Colorado theater at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, says a federal magistrate judge. Cinemark moved in late October to have the civil claims dismissed. At the time, the exhibitor argued that each suit “fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted as a matter of law,” arguing that what happened was not its fault. In a dense 22-page recommendation (read it here) filed Thursday, Judge Michael Hegarty said the consolidated negligence and wrongful death civil lawsuits by victims and their families should be dismissed. Instead he suggests that because the plaintiffs’ “state plausible claims,” they may have a further case under the Colorado Premises Liability Act. ”Absent allegations that Plaintiffs’ injuries occurred other than on Defendant’s property and did not arise out of a condition of the property or by activities conducted on the property, and in accordance with prevailing case law, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs’ claims for negligence and wrongful death are abrogated by the CPLA and must be dismissed,” says the recommendation to the district court. All of the lawsuits cite the lack of proper security at the July 20 opening day midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises at the Aurora Century 16 … Read More »

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Cinemark’s Aurora Movie Theater Opens Today With Private Ceremony

By | Thursday January 17, 2013 @ 9:08am PST

The Colorado multiplex where a gunman opened fire in a crowded theater watching a July 20 midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises is reopening today. A private ceremony is planned for victims, first responders and officials, the AP says. Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded in the attack. Cinemark said it will open the theater to the public Friday and have it fully operational by January 25. Cinemark reportedly spent $1 million on renovations and has renamed the venue the Century Aurora but has given few other details about plans. Some victims’ family members are upset about tonight’s “special evening of remembrance”, though — Cinemark sent out invitations during the holidays. Outraged invitees publicly condemned the circuit in a letter published January 2 in the Denver Post. “This disgusting offer that you’d ‘like to invite you and a guest to a special evening of remembrance on Thursday, January 17 at 5 PM’ followed by the showing of a movie and then telling us to be sure ‘to reserve our tickets’ is wholly offensive to the memory of our loved ones,” the letter read in part.

Last week, alleged gunman James Holmes had his arraignment pushed back until March 12. He faces 166 counts including for murder and attempted murder.

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Accused Colorado Theater Shooter’s Arraignment Pushed Back To March

By | Friday January 11, 2013 @ 12:07pm PST

The accused gunman in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting will now not be arraigned until March 12, a judge ruled today. James Holmes was scheduled for arraignment Friday but Judge William Sylvester delayed the hearing at the request of the suspect’s public defenders. Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded when Holmes allegedly opened fire July 20th during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises at the Cinemark-owned Aurora Century 16 multiplex. The decision sparked outrage from family members of the deceased and victims as the Colorado-based District Court judge explained that defense lawyers said that they needed more time to figure out the correct plea for their client.  On Thursday, the judge had decided that prosecutors had presented evidence of probable cause that Holmes committed the shooting. He is accused of 166 counts, including murder and attempted murder and could face the death penalty if found guilty.

Related: Colorado Theater Shooting Lawsuits Get May 2014 Trial Date

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Colorado Theater Shooting Lawsuits Get May 2014 Trial Date

By | Tuesday November 27, 2012 @ 3:52pm PST

The seven lawsuits filed against Cinemark over the July 20 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado will go forward as one, and they will go to trial in a year and a half. In a short hearing (read the minutes here) in Denver yesterday, U.S. District Judge R. Brook Jackson set a jury trial date of May 5, 2014 for the cases. The judge also ordered the suits consolidated for the purposes of discovery and motions. All cite the lack of proper security at the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises at the Aurora Century 16 multiplex as being responsible for the shooting by alleged gunman James Holmes. The rampage left 12 dead and 58 wounded. On Monday, Jackson gave January 31, 2014 as the cut-off date for discovery and February 15, 2014 as the deadline for dispositive motions. Three victims filed lawsuits on September 21 and four more suits were filed October 11 by victims and their families. Cinemark filed motions in October to have all lawsuits against it dismissed. Kevin Taylor and Kyle Seedorf of Denver firm Taylor Anderson are representing Cinemark in the case.

Related:  
Cinemark Won’t Address Aurora Questions And Its Fallout
Christian Bale Visits Aurora Theater Shooting Victims

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Cinemark Wants Latest Colorado Shooting Lawsuits Dismissed

By | Monday October 22, 2012 @ 1:24pm PDT

Like it did with the first round of lawsuits, the theater chain has quickly responded to the most recent legal actions against it for the July 20 shooting at its Aurora, Colo, cinema. Late last week, Cinemark filed motions (read two of them here and here) to dismiss the October 11 civil complaints from parents of victims of the midnight The Dark Knight Rises screening shooting. The exhibitor seeks to have the claims dismissed because each one “fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted as a matter of law,” arguing that what happened was not its fault. “It would be patently unfair, and legally unsound, to impose on Cinemark, a private business in the entertainment industry, the duty and burden to have foreseen and prevented the criminal equivalent of a meteor falling from the sky,” said Cinemark’s lawyers in their October 18 motions. The shootings by alleged gunman James Holmes left 12 dead and 58 wounded. Read More »

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Cinemark Faces More Lawsuits Over Colorado Movie Theater Shooting

By | Friday October 12, 2012 @ 5:06pm PDT

Four more lawsuits have been filed against the theater chain by families of those killed in the July 20 shooting in Aurora, Colorado. The deaths occurred during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight RisesLike the first lawsuits against Cinemark filed over three weeks ago, this week’s actions cite the lack of proper security at the chain’s Century 16 location. Two of the wrongful death suits (read them here and here) were filed by the mothers of shooting victims Matthew McQuinn and Alexander Boik. “Plaintiff prays for judgment in her favor and against the Defendant in an amount which will fully and fairly compensate her for damages, losses, and injuries, both past and future,” says both suits. Both also say “the amount in controversy herein exceeds the sum of $75,000.” The shooting left 12 dead and 58 wounded. Cinemark responded to the September 21 suits from Denise Traynom, Brandon Axelrod and Joshua Nowlan by saying that it was not responsible for the tragedy and sought to have the suits dismissed. Attorney Jerome Malman represents Boik’s mother Mary Theresa Hoover, McQuinn’s mother Jerri Jackson and Rena Medek, whose daughter Micayla was also killed in the theater. Attorney Sandra Hagen represents Dion Rosborough, Jon Boik, Tony Briscoe and Ryan Lumba in their combined suit.

Related:  
Cinemark Won’t Address Aurora Questions And Its Fallout
Christian Bale Visits Aurora Theater Shooting Victims

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Cinemark Seeks Dismissal Of Colorado Theater Shooting Lawsuits

By | Friday September 28, 2012 @ 8:59am PDT

The movie theater chain says it is not responsible for alleged gunman James Holmes’ fatal rampage at the Century 16’s midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20 in Aurora, CO. “Plaintiff’s claims against Cinemark are grounded in nothing more than allegations that a random unbalanced individual randomly chose this theatre on this random night at this random time to randomly murder and injure other human beings. Random acts, by very definition, are not legally foreseeable,” the company said in a motion to dismiss (read it here) filed yesterday. Last week, audience members Denise Traynom, Brandon Axelrod and Joshua Nowlan sued the chain for failing to provide adequate security at the theater on the night that saw 12 people killed and 58 wounded. Cinemark says besides not being able to foresee Holmes’ actions, the suits should be dismissed because they fail to state a claim on which relief can be granted. The plaintiffs say that in each case damages exceed $75,000, and they are asking for a jury trial.

Related: Cinemark Won’t Address Aurora Questions And Its Fallout Read More »

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Aurora Tragedy Probably Hurt Summer Box Office Sales, IMAX Exec Says

By | Wednesday September 12, 2012 @ 2:46pm PDT

“There’s nothing we can quantify about Colorado,” IMAX Filmed Entertainment President Greg Foster told the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. Nevertheless, he adds, “I can’t imagine that in someway it hasn’t” contributed to lower-than-expected Q3 ticket sales. He says it also might have affected the kinds of films that audiences attended: Ones that did surprisingly well, he says were “don’t-take-yourself-seriously movies” such as Universal’s Ted and Marvel’s The Avengers. Foster expects a big turnaround this holiday season. Sony/MGM’s James Bond film Skyfall, Lionsgate’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part Two), and Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey are all “earmarked for success.” Although all are sequels, he says that generally speaking “more of the same doesn’t work. That I know for sure.” Foster’s comments came as Barrington Research’s James Goss lowered his earnings forecast for IMAX, citing the recent weakness at box offices. He projects the company will generate 20 cents in earnings per share for Q3, down from 28 cents.  The Aurora tragedy and the Chinese government’s insistence that Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight Rises and Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man open there simultaneously “likely cut into total potential B.O. results,” Goss says.

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James Holmes Charged In Colorado Shooting

By | Monday July 30, 2012 @ 10:01am PDT

James Holmes, the alleged gunman in the horrific Aurora, Colo, movie theater shootings July 20 during a midnight premeire of The Dark Knight Rises, was just charged with 24 counts of murder in the deaths of 12 people. The charges include one count of murder and one count of murder in extreme indifference for each victim, according to NBC. Holmes was charged with 116 counts of attempted murder in the proceedings today in Centennial, Colo. A total of 58 moviegoers were also injured during the rampage at the Cinemark-owned Century Aurora 16 theater.

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Christian Bale Visits Aurora Theater Shooting Victims: Not Representing Warner Bros

UPDATE: Christian Bale and his wife traveled to the town of the Aurora movie theater shooting and spent 2 1/2-hours meeting with seven gunshot victims who posted photos of their meeting Batman on the Internet. Warner Bros made it very clear to Deadline that The Dark Knight Rises star was representing himself, not the movie studio. (Though I hear studio reps accompanied him.) “The patients were really happy to meet Bale,” a hospital spokesperson said. “They are obviously big fans of his movies. They wanted to see Batman and were really pleased to see Bale.” Bale specifically asked that media not be notified of his trip. “He wanted to meet with victims and police,” the spokesperson said.

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