ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – This weekend, “Straight Outta Compton” is projected to rise to the top of the box office charts, but if you want to see the movie in St. Petersburg, you’re out of luck. The movie is not showing at the Muvico Sundial 19. Many feel insulted.
“Straight Outta Compton” is about the 1980s emergence of Hip Hop group N.W.A.
“I’m very offended. I feel like it’s maybe somewhat, a little bit racist that they’re not showing the movie here,” movie fan Lonnie Morris said.
Years ago, when the Sundial was called the “BayWalk,” there were problems with large crowds of teens hanging out there. Now that the BayWalk has been transformed, the youth feel marginalized. It’s created a firestorm on social media.
“Because of past problems here you don’t want us to come? You don’t want black youth to come? Maybe you’re not saying those words but that’s the way we’re taking it,” Morris said.
“I understand the demographic downtown compared to people that want to see the movie is a little different, but people want to see it in their own neighborhood. They don’t want to drive to a whole other city just to see a movie,” Chris Roberts said.
A spokesperson for Carmike Cinemas strongly denies race played a factor in the decision. The company released the following statement:
“Carmike Cinemas is showing the film ‘Straight Outta Compton’ as a ‘wide-release’, meaning it is showcasing the film across the vast majority of the Company’s theatre circuit— in over 200 of its 245 locations. There is never a case when a movie is shown in every theatre across the Company’s circuit—the same is true for other movie theater exhibitors in the film exhibition industry. To add a healthy perspective based on facts, six of our seven Florida-based Muvico locations are screening ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ including our theatres in West Palm Beach, Hialeah, Tampa (20-40 miles away from St. Petersburg), Palm Harbor and Pompano Beach.”
But some feel this is a direct insult, and think there has to be a better solution. “Don’t avoid the situation, brush it under the rug and make people feel bad. Get more security,” Morris suggested.
“I’ll just take my business and go somewhere else and watch the movie,” Roberts added.
In addition to Carmike’s Sundial location, the movie isn’t scheduled to play at Carmike’s Royal Palm 20 in Bradenton. The Carmike official emphasized these decisions are strictly about business. “Straight Outta Compton” is playing at Regal Entertainment Group theaters in Tampa, Largo and Pinellas Park. It’s playing at the CineBistro in Hyde Park Village and AMC West Shore 14 in Tampa, in addition to other theaters.