Theater chain bars ''Fahrenheit 9/11.'' Chief of Iowa's Fridley chain says he won't book ''political propaganda films'' from right or left

By Gary Susman
July 06, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
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”Fahrenheit 9/11” may be breaking documentary box office records all over America, but one Iowa-based theater chain refuses to book it because it allegedly provides aid and comfort to anti-American terrorists. According to the Associated Press, R.L. Fridley, who owns the Fridley chain of 34 theaters across Iowa and Nebraska, won’t book ”Fahrenheit,” citing a policy that his chain will not ”play political propaganda films from either the right or the left.” So Fridley wrote in a companywide e-mail, AP reports, adding that he believes the Michael Moore film plays into the hands of the terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks and those behind the recent beheadings of Americans in the Middle East. ”I believe this film emboldens them and divides our country even more,” Fridley wrote.

Variety reports that another Midwest chain, GKC Theaters, has booked the film on just one of its 268 screens, in Traverse City, Mich., and will not expand the booking to its other screens, which are mostly in Michigan and Illinois. Execs at GKC, the country’s 15th-largest chain, had political objections to the film similar to Fridley’s, Variety reports, though there’s been no official statement commenting on the booking decision. There was no indication, however, that either Fridley or GKC made their decisions in response to the e-mail campaign launched by Move America Forward, a conservative group whose supporters have called for a boycott of chains that book Moore’s movie. On June 26, the day after the film opened to a packed house in Traverse City, GKC vice president Bryan Jeffries said most people who had contacted the chain wanted it to show ”Fahrenheit.” ”I would say that the ratio has been 5-1 in favor of bringing the movie, but that doesn’t surprise me,” he told the Traverse City Record Eagle. ”The people against it are probably ignoring it and wishing it would go away and I think that makes sense.”

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