- Associated Press - Thursday, January 17, 2013

AURORA, COLO. (AP) - The Colorado movie theater where a gunman killed 12 people and wounded dozens of others has reopened with a private ceremony for victims, first responders and officials.

Gov. John Hickenlooper acknowledged some victims and their families didn’t want the theater to reopen. But he said that for those who attended the ceremony Thursday, it was the path to healing.

Theater owner Cinemark plans to reopen the entire 16-screen complex in Aurora to the public temporarily on Friday, then permanently on Jan. 25.

Pierce O’Farrill said it was important for him to return to the theater and sit in the same seat where he sat July 20, when a gunman opened fire during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Other victims called the reopening insensitive and refused an invitation to attend.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

The Colorado cinema where 12 people were killed and dozens injured in a shooting rampage nearly six months ago reopens Thursday with a remembrance ceremony and a private screening of the fantasy film “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” for survivors _ but for some Aurora victims, the pain is still too much, the idea too horrific.

Several families boycotted what they called a callous public relations ploy by the theater’s owner, Cinemark. They claimed the Texas-based company _ which has been publicly silent since the July 20 shooting _ didn’t ask them what should happen to the theater. They said Cinemark emailed them an invitation to Thursday’s reopening just two days after they struggled through Christmas without their loved ones.

“It was boilerplate Hollywood _ `Come to our movie screening,’” said Anita Busch, whose cousin, 23-year-old college student Micayla Medek, died at the theater.

Others, like Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, said the event was part of the healing process and that many residents wanted to see the theater back up and running.

James Holmes, a former neuroscience Ph.D. student, is charged with 166 felony counts, mostly murder and attempted murder, in the July 20 shootings at the former Century 16 _ now the Century Aurora. A judge ordered Holmes to stand trial, but he won’t enter a plea until March.

First responders to the massacre, Hogan, Gov. John Hickenlooper and religious leaders were to join survivors at the multiplex for Thursday’s event.

In addition to the “Hobbit” screening, theater placards featured “Trouble With the Curve,” “Cloud Atlas,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and other films for the weekend.

Victims have filed at least three federal lawsuits against Cinemark, alleging it should have provided security for the midnight “The Dark Knight Rises” showing, and that an exit door used by the gunman to get his weapons and re-enter should have had an alarm. In court papers, Cinemark says the tragedy was “unforeseeable and random.”

Hogan noted that the community grieves and heals in different ways but insisted that most Aurora residents wanted to reopen the theater.

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