Aurora movie theater holds reopening event 6 months after shooting at 'Dark Knight Rises' premiere

'Night of Remembrance' for responders, victims

AURORA, Colo. - The Aurora movie theater that was the scene of a deadly mass shooting in July held a re-opening ceremony Thursday night.

People directly impacted by the theater shooting were invited to attend a special "Evening of Remembrance."  About 1,600 tickets were given out.

Governor John Hickenlooper and Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan joined Cinemark CEO Tim Warner for a 30 minute program.  

"I cannot allow the shooter in any way, shape or form to win," said Hogan in a ceremony simulcast into all theaters in the building. "We have chosen to move forward together. Our response illustrates that we will not let this tragedy define us."

The ceremony was followed by a viewing of the movie "The Hobbit."

I think it's good the movie theater is opening," shooting survivor Jansen Young told 7NEWS.  "It will be a healing process, I hope."

Jansen's boyfriend Jonathan Blunk died protecting her from the shooter.

"I'm going to be there to memorialize John," she said.  "If I'm lucky, I'll find some peace out of it."

Afterward, Jansen had different emotions.

"It was harder than I thought it was going to be," she told 7NEWS. " I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting to go into there and burst into tears."

She said support from her family and friends helped her get through tonight.

"It’s moving how love and compassion can be so helpful in times like these and it’s so true. I could not do this without support and love coming from everyone," she said.

Marcus Weaver, who was shot in the arm and was friends with a woman who died, said there's a camaraderie among those who were there the night of the shooting.

"I felt just connected to everyone who was in that theater, whether it was a first responder, whether it was a person working at the theater that night," he said.

The group calling itself 'The Families of the Aurora Cinemark Theatre Massacre' said they rejected an invitation from Cinemark USA to attend Thursday night's event.

Their rebuke brought this reaction from Weaver, "The families of the people who were shot wrote the letter and didn’t want to come and made me feel like maybe I shouldn’t go either, but then the Lord truly put it on my heart to come and I’m so thankful," he said. "I feel like  I’m a different person for coming, and it brings about some healing."

The  theater where James Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and injured 58 others has a new look and a new name now.

The facade is different too, that reddish-purple neon replaced with more muted colors and a new sign.

There are many changes inside, especially to Theater 9, which is now an XD theater with 354 seats and a new screen.

The theaters will now be labeled with letters instead of numbers.

Renovations took months to complete, and it's believed the cost was around one million dollars.

The theater reopens to the public Friday.  A spokesperson told 7NEWS earlier in the week they'll offer free tickets to everyone this weekend.

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