A note to readers: While most of the PR failures we write about are unfortunate, they are also amusing (on some level). This one, however, cannot be categorized as anything but horrifically insensitive, bordering on cruel.
Relatives of the victims of last summer’s movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado recently received invitations from Cinemark USA to attend the reopening of the same theater at which their loved ones lost their lives. The invitations, which were sent just after the holidays, urged recipients to “reserve [their] tickets” for an evening of remembrance and a movie to follow.
In response, family members sent a strongly-worded letter to Cinemark in which they expressed anger and outrage at the company’s lack of compassion, calling the invitation “disgusting”. They also noted that Cinemark representatives never reached out to offer their condolences; the company even rebuffed requests to meet with family members without lawyers present. The letter admonishes the reopening celebration as a “thinly veiled publicity ploy” and calls for a boycott of the theater.
Click through for the full letter, which appeared in The Denver Post complete with the signatures of eight shooting victims’ relatives:
During the holiday we didn’t think anyone or anything could make our grief worse but you, Cinemark, have managed to do just that by sending us an invitation two days after Christmas inviting us to attend the re-opening of your theater in Aurora where our loved ones were massacred.Thanks for making what is a very difficult holiday season that much more difficult. Timing is everything and yours is awful.
You (Cinemark) has shown, and continues to show, ZERO compassion to the families of the victims whose loved ones were killed in their theater. You, Cinemark, have never once reached out to the families to offer condolences.
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.
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.
You (Cinemark) refused our repeated invitations to speak parent to parent with no lawyers involved. Instead, we get invited to attend a “special evening of remembrance” at the very theater where our loved ones lay dead on the floor for over 15 hours. We would give anything to wipe the carnage of that night out of our minds’ eye. Thank you for reminding us how your quest for profits has blinded your leadership and made you so callous as to be oblivious to our mental anguish.
We, the families, recognize your thinly veiled publicity ploy for what it is: A great opportunity for you to distance yourselves and divert public scrutiny from your culpability in this massacre.
After reading our response to your ridiculously offensive invitation, you now know why we will not be attending your re-opening celebration and will be using every social media tool at our disposal to ask the other victims to ask their friends and family to honor us by boycotting the killing field of our children.
What do we think? Why would Cinemark think this was a good idea, and how can the company make up for its poor decision?