President and CEO of Cinemark, Tim Warner, wrote a letter to Aurora mayor Steve Hogan on Wednesday, announcing that the renovated theater will be reopening on January 17 — almost exactly six months after the shooting spree took place on July 20, reports Yahoo! News.
In his letter, Warner wrote:
“We would like to host an evening for specially invited invitees… especially those affected by the tragedy of July 20th and those who have done so much for this community.”
Cinemark will allow victims, families, and employees affected by the shooting to visit the Aurora movie theater on January 15 and 16 before it opens to the public. Warner added, “From January 18th through January 20th, we will, as part of honoring this special community, offer free movies.”
The Denver Post notes that the Colorado theater where the massacre took place has been completely renovated inside and out. The familiar purple hue outside the building that was seen in thousands of photos and TV broadcasts will be replaced. Mayor Hogan and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper are expected to attend the event.
Renovations on the Cinemark theater began in August after survey found that the majority of residents in Aurora wanted to see it reopen. Theater 9 — where the shooting took place — will be turned into an XD theater, featuring a wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling screen.
While Hickenlooper commented, “We’ve heard from many people who feel the theater reopening is a necessary part of recovery,” not everyone agrees. Greg Medek, who lost his daughter Micayla, 23, in the shooting, stated that he will not attend the theater’s reopening. Medek added:
“I already go out of my way to avoid driving past that place. I don’t think I’ll ever go to the movies again, and I just don’t see how people can go in that place.”
Mayor Hogan maintained, however, that the theater is a “valued part of our community.” He added that many residents are glad to see the Aurora theater reopen, despite its place in history at the site where 12 were killed and 58 injured in July 2012.