A second Florida theater has dropped plans to screen director Alex Gibney’s controversial documentary Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief.
The Hollywood Reporter is quoting a spokesperson for the AMC Woodlands Square 20 in Oldsmar, FL that it will not be screening the documentary as it had originally announced this past weekend “due to ‘space’ reasons.” Initially, the theater had stepped in when the Cobb Theatres’ Countryside 12 in Clearwater, FL was bullied by the Church of Scientology into dropping screening of the film over the weekend. The AMC Woodlands Square 20 is approximately 12 miles from Clearwater.
The next nearest town that will be screening the film is Tampa, at the AMC Veterans 24, an approximate 45-minute drive from Clearwater. An AMC spokesperson to the Reporter that the Tampa theater “is a larger venue, allowing the chain more flexibility.”
Clearwater is the home to Scientology’s world spiritual headquarters and reportedly exerts an influence in the local community. This second cancellation announcement does not specifically mention that the theater received any feedback from the Church that influenced their decision to drop plans to screen the controversial and critical documentary. However, you would think that before announcing that they would be able to hold screenings of the film in the wake of the Cobbs Theatre cancellation they would have first made sure that they did indeed have the room to do so. The excuse that this reversal on their part is due to “space” issues is some rather weak tea and downright suspicious.
Going Clear premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival. A brief theatrical run in a few theater followed to make it eligible for Academy Award consideration before it aired on HBO in March. It won three Emmys this past weekend , in the Best Documentary Special, Best Nonfiction Writing and Best Nonfiction Directing categories. In a pre-Oscar nomination push, HBO is releasing the film back into approximately 20 theaters this weekend in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, Miami and other major cities. Additional theaters are planned to be added the following weekend.