Orpheum president says people made threats over decision to not show ‘Gone with the Wind’

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Orpheum’s decision to not show Gone with the Wind in its summer movie lineup faced a firestorm of comments on social media, and Orpheum Theatre Group president and CEO Brett Batterson said some people have even gone so far as to attack and threaten individuals with the theater.

The Orpheum Theatre Group announced Friday that Gone with the Wind would not be part of its 2018 Summer Movie Series after showing it for decades. The theater cited “numerous comments” from patrons as the reason for the change.

The 1939 film centers around a plantation in the Civil War-era South. It remains the highest-grossing movie adjusted for inflation, but it has faced criticism for its depictions of race and slavery.

“As an organization whose stated mission is to ‘entertain, educate and enlighten the communities it serves’, the Orpheum cannot show a film that is insensitive to a large segment of its local population,” the theater’s operators said in a statement.

While many on social media were fine with the decision or applauded it, many more were not happy.

However, the outrage over this — which reached outside of the Mid-South after making national news — didn’t contain itself to just sharing opinions.

“Our Orpheum team has personally been attacked and threatened to the point that there are guards stationed to watch my home and the Orpheum facilities,” Batterson wrote in a statement Tuesday.

Batterson emphasized the choice was a “programming decision” rather than a “statement on the film” and added the initial announcement said nothing about the movie being “banned,” “censored” or “gone.”

“It is not a judgment of the show itself, nor any audience members who might wish to see it,” he wrote. “It was never our intention to dictate what can and cannot be viewed by any resident of our city.”