A film about two gay cowboys was removed Friday from the schedule at the Megaplex 17 at Jordan Commons, which is owned by Larry Miller.
The film, "Brokeback Mountain," was scheduled to begin screening at 12:45 p.m. Friday, according to ads in the Deseret Morning News and Salt Lake Tribune. Late Thursday, the Newspaper Agency Corp., which handles advertising, production and printing for both papers, was asked to remove show times for the film from its ads.
Greig Smith, senior vice president and ad director for the NAC, said notification to pull the listing came too late to remove it from Friday's paper. It has been pulled from ads for papers today and Sunday, he said.
Calls to Miller and a spokesperson were not returned Friday. Cal Gunderson, manager of the Jordan Commons Megaplex, was reached by phone but declined to comment. A check of the theater's online and telephone listings showed that "Brokeback Mountain" had indeed been removed from screening.
Conservative groups lauded the apparent decision to not show the film. Others said it was a decision that would deny Utahns a chance to see a true work of art.
"I think it sets an example for all the people in Utah and, like I said before, he's my new hero," said Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum. "It's such a terrible show, and it is such a horrible message. I just think (pulling the show) tells the young people especially that maybe there is something wrong with this show."
The film, which stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, is about two cowboys who unexpectedly discover feelings for one another while on a job herding sheep in Wyoming. The two eventually marry women but return over the years to rekindle their love.
Advocates in Utah's gay and lesbian community expressed disappointment about the decision to pull the film, but Mike Thompson, executive director of the gay rights advocacy group Equality Utah, said he's not calling for a boycott of Miller's theaters.
Thompson described the movie as very tasteful with "nothing that even hints at pornography."
"It's just a shame that such a beautiful and award-winning film with so much buzz about it is not being made available to a broad Utah audience because of personal bias," he said. "It's just disappointing."
Jane Marquardt, board chairwoman of Equality Utah, agreed, saying the decision is especially disturbing since Miller's theaters are showing movies with graphic violence.
"It's sad to think that someone would think a movie is that controversial simply because it's a love story between two people of the same sex," she said.
Marquardt did say there was one bright side. The Broadway Theater, which has been sold out for showings of the movie, will likely get more business.
"I hope (Miller) doing that will encourage more people to learn more about what it's all about," she said.
"Brokeback Mountain" is scheduled at other theaters in Utah, including the Broadway and Tower theaters, managed by the Salt Lake Film Society.
Tori Baker, executive director of the film society, said "Brokeback Mountain" has had record earnings since it opened at the Broadway and Tower theaters last Thursday. Across the nation, 296 screens are showing the film. Utah ranked 12th last week with per-screen average earnings, said Baker.
The Film Society received rights to premiere the film a week ahead of other Utah theaters.