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Marquee sets off a ruckus

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Rose Willet of Grand Junction takes a photo Monday morning of the Gaslight Twin Cinema marquee displaying the current movies. “I think it’s ironic and sad.” she said.

By Luke Groskopf Herald staff writer

With the movie theater shooting in Aurora still fresh and raw in the minds of Coloradoans, the marquee sign atop the Gaslight Twin Cinema near the south end of Main Avenue has provoked some strong reactions over the last three days.

On Friday, a low-budget sci-fi comedy called “Safety Not Guaranteed” replaced “Moonrise Kingdom” to run alongside “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Gaslight. Once the two film titles were placed next to one another, the bitter irony wasn’t lost on passers-by.

Several people were seen stopping to take photographs of the marquee Monday.

“What a terrible thing,” said Helen Trueblood, a tourist from Indiana who took a picture of the marquee to send to her daughter.

“I don’t know if it’s funny or offensive,” said fellow visitor Cheryl Anderson of Tulsa, Okla.

Compared to most summer blockbusters, “Safety Not Guaranteed” has neither been heavily promoted nor advertised. Its relative obscurity has contributed to the confusion, leading some bystanders to believe the marquee was a legal disclaimer or an ill-advised attempt at dark humor.

“I didn’t know what to think at first because I didn’t know it was the name of a real movie,” said Ben Rothbart, who works in Durango. “I would think it was just a mistake. I would hope.”

Rothbart recommended rearranging the order of titles, listing “Safety Not Guaranteed” first, to minimize any ominous undertones.

The Gaslight and Durango Stadium 9 movie theaters were purchased by Allen Theaters Inc., earlier this summer from previous owner Storyteller Theaters Corp. The new ownership is based in Las Cruces, N.M.

Vice president of operations, Russell Allen, said the coincidence hadn’t crossed his mind when selecting movies to show at the Gaslight.

“I didn’t think about it. They’re two completely separate movies,” Allen said. “It’s naive ... but I understand how people get thoughts in their minds and make unassociated associations.”

While the two movies will continue to run as scheduled, Allen said the company would “remove the title from the marquee to ease peoples’ concerns.”

When asked how consumers would know “Safety Not Guaranteed” was showing, Allen said most moviegoers don’t rely on the marquee anyway. Instead, they use newspaper listings or the Internet.

“I won’t worry about it. If (the film) doesn’t do business, it’ll leave,” he said. “There’s a poster in the window.”

lgroskopf@durangoherald.com Herald Staff Writer Shane Benjamin contributed to this report.

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