Orpheum CEO responds to criticism over 'Gone with the Wind' decision

Updated: Aug. 30, 2017 at 6:35 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Orpheum Theatre made international news when it decided to remove Gone with the Wind from its 2018 Summer Movie Series.

Gone with the Wind was part of the 2017 Summer Movie Series. It was shown at the theatre August 11. After that showing, the theatre received several comments about the film.

Following those comments, the theatre decided to not include the movie as part of the series next year.

WMC Action News 5 asked to speak with Orpheum CEO Brett Batterson about the decision, but the theatre said it would not be doing any interviews on the topic.

Later the same day, Batterson released the following statement:

"As some of you may be aware, the Orpheum Theatre Group in Memphis, Tennessee has unintentionally made international news as a result of our decision not to include "Gone With the Wind" in our 2018 Summer Movie Series. While the traditional media, social media and internet users all over the globe have made this out to be a statement on the film "Gone With the Wind," I have always simply considered it to be a programming decision. 

I make programming decisions every day. If I decide not to present a particular Broadway show at the Orpheum, it is not a judgment of the show itself, nor any audience members who might wish to see it. The same is true when I decide what movies to include in our summer series. 

The fact that the decision has been distorted beyond recognition as the story traveled worldwide only proves what a divisive time in which we live. 

Our statement did not include the words "banned," "censored," "gone," "never again" or any of the many others that have been incorrectly attributed to us. As there are so many ways viewers can still watch "Gone With the Wind," it was never our intention to dictate what can and cannot be viewed by any resident of our city. The August 29 online and August 30 print article in The Commercial Appeal by John Beifuss does a good job describing the events surrounding the situation.

These past five days have been the longest of my life.

I hurt as a result of this experience. 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. This is irrational. It is four hours of programming at the Orpheum, out of the 8,760 hours in a year.

Most of the thousands of comments on the internet about this subject come from those who have never met me, never set foot inside the Orpheum or Halloran Centre and do not understand the difficult decisions involved in programming a performing arts center. Our patrons and donors who truly know the Orpheum can rest assured that whether you agree with a decision or not, the Orpheum will always strive to present the highest quality programming for all the citizens of Memphis. 

Thank you for your support as a patron and friend of the Orpheum."

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.