A spokesman for Utah-based Megaplex Theaters said Tuesday the theater chain will not be screening the new comedy "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" because it won't appeal to audiences here.
But critics of Megaplex, which is owned by Larry H. Miller, say the theater chain is hypocritical because it is now showing other R-rated films with similar content, including the comedy "Sex Drive."
Last Friday, a brief portion of "Sex Drive" was accidentally shown to an audience gathered at a Megaplex theater to see "High School Musical 3." Like "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," the film includes sexual references and some nudity.
With "Zack and Miri," Megaplex spokesman Jeff Whipple said the reason it is not being screened is simply a "business decision."
"When we screen movies, we make our selection based on the interest we think that our guests will have in a film," Whipple said. "We were No. 4 in the nation for 'High School Musical.' We've got great movies that are playing, and we make the selection based on what we think the audiences are interested in seeing."
Megaplex Theaters has 70 movie screens at five theaters across the Wasatch Front. In 2006, the chain generated controversy for not showing the film "Brokeback Mountain," which was about two gay cowboys.
Whipple said he "didn't have all the particulars" about the "Brokeback" decision. But he reiterated his comment that the choice to not screen "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" was simply a "business decision based on what we think our guests are looking for."
"Zack and Miri Make a Porno" opened nationwide on Friday. It features Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks as roommates who decide to pay off their debts by making an adult film together. Other theaters in Utah, including those owned by Carmike Cinemas and the Broadway Centre Cinema in downtown Salt Lake City, will show the film.
Nationwide, no other major theater chains have declined to show the film, according to a representative from its distributor, the Weinstein Co.
Tori Baker, director of the Salt Lake Film Society, said the reason the Broadway is running the film is because of its director, Kevin Smith, who has a background in producing independent, art house films. Normally, the film society steers away from bigger, wide-release movies.
"We are supportive of him and his accessibility as a filmmaker and his independent filmmaker roots," Baker said. "We were happy to get it."Larry Collins with Carmike Cinemas said he didn't know there was an issue with the film. "It's just a comedy," he said Tuesday.