Some people are questioning why highly anticipated screenings of Black Panther were canceled in Towson, Md., the film’s opening night. The Baltimore Sun reports that large amounts of movie goers arrived at the Towson Cinemark Thursday night to catch the first showings of Black Panther. Like filmgoers around the country, many of them arrived early and dressed in African-inspired garb to watch the movie.
Tabitha Morgan, 22, wrote in an email:“I was very pumped to go see the movie. Like ever since I first seen Angela Basset styling silvery white dreads, I knew I had to go see it,” she wrote. “Once we arrived in Towson and just seeing people with African print skirts, dashikis, and Black affirmation shirts, I was so excited.”
After some delays, as long as an hour some people said, the audience was told that all the Black Panther screenings were canceled due to “technical difficulties”. The only technical difficulties were by one movie: Black Panther. According to one Twitter user, 10 showings in total of Black Panther were canceled that evening. None of the other films had any “technical difficulties.”
And it gets even shadier. Patrick Kieley, a 31-year-old Towson native who, before working as an editor on movie trailers, worked in film distribution for five years, said that the digital cinema packages—basically, the new film reels—are always proofed when a theater receives them. For a blockbuster being shown on multiple screens, Kieley says, it’s safe to assume that the theater would have backups.
“There’s no way a large exhibitor like that would have technical issues at the last minute,” Kieley said, adding that the whole thing “smells really rotten.”
“No other film screenings were canceled, so it wasn’t a theater-wide technical issue. Just any theaters that were showing Black Panther,” Keiley wrote. “Seems awfully convenient.”
Further complicating matters is a curfew, imposed in 2016, at the Towson theater and accompanying mall for unaccompanied minors.
Back then, officials with the Baltimore County chapter of the NAACP raised concerns about how the curfew might discriminate against teens of color.
The curfew is enforced only on Fridays and Saturdays, which means that it would not have been in effect on Thursday, the night the Black Panther screenings were canceled. Some people are wondering whether the lack of a curfew to enforce played into the theater’s cancellation. Smells a little like racism to me.
I think I’ll take my popcorn money elsewhere. Hit me @jaztalk1 on Instagram, twitter and Facebook.