SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS
When Regal Entertainment Group, the largest movie theater operator in the United States, decided it would not show a controversial new film that depicts the assassination of President Bush on any of its 6,300 screens, the chain didn't stop there. Even if "Death of a President" is a hit for other theaters, a company representative insisted, Regal would never allow its customers to see the film.
"We do not feel it is appropriate to portray the future assassination of a president," said Regal's Dick Westerling.
With AMC, the nation's second-largest chain, and Cinemark, which owns Century Theatres, also lining up against "Death of a President," the film has effectively been banned from at least 16,300 American movie screens.
"That's a really striking statement," said Gabriel Range, the director and co-writer of the faux documentary, which opened Friday on fewer than 120 screens nationwide. The Bay Area is one of the movie's biggest potential markets, with openings today in Los Gatos, Menlo Park, San Francisco and Berkeley. By contrast, in the nation's capital the film is showing at only one theater.
"I think some of the theater chains have decided that it's an opportunity for them to take a moral stance," Range said. "And I find that questionable."
CNN and National Public Radio announced this week that neither network would accept ads for the film (NPR calls them program sponsorships).