Some people are questioning why highly anticipated screenings of Black Panther were canceled in Towson, Md., the film’s opening night.
As the Baltimore Sun reports, lots of people had shown up to the Towson Cinemark on Thursday night to catch the first showings of Black Panther. Like loads of other filmgoers around the country, many of them arrived early and dressed in African-inspired garb to watch the movie.
The Sun notes what 22-year-old college student Tabitha Morgan 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.”
But that excitement soured later in the evening when, after some delays, attendees were told that all Black Panther screenings for that night would be canceled because of technical problems. One Twitter user mentioned waiting at the theater over an hour before being told that the movie wouldn’t be shown.
As Jeanine Carter, a 33-year-old paralegal, told the Sun: “There was a lot of cussing. From myself and others.”
Filmgoers were given free movie passes for their trouble, but the event has some people scratching their heads.
One person who wrote to The Root said it was highly unlikely that the cinema would have issues with its reels, especially for a highly anticipated blockbuster that he points out had “sold out almost every show.”
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 / DCPs that were showing Black Panther,” Keiley wrote. “Seems awfully convenient.”
According to one Twitter user, 10 showings in total of Black Panther were canceled that evening.
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, but there was “no outcry” against the curfew, the Sun reports.
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 readers who wrote in to The Root wondered whether the lack of a curfew to enforce played into the theater’s cancellation.
The Towson Cinemark employees told the Sun that all Black Panther screenings for Friday would continue as planned.