LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — A Lancaster County movie theater has canceled plans to screen a movie that features some prominent Pennsylvania conservative leaders, including Republican candidate for Pennsylvania Governor Doug Mastriano.
A documentary called “The return of the American patriot: The rise of Pennsylvania” was set to premiere on July 16 at Penn Cinema.
The film is described as “a documentary about the resistance against globalism and tyranny in Pennsylvania.”
However, the venue canceled the premiere after backlash from a group called Lancaster Stands Up.
According to a Facebook post, the theater told the organization: “We did have plans with the group, but once we learned of the nationalist populist agenda, we canceled the event.”
Those behind the documentary say this was the product of cancel culture.
“I was taken back by what I saw was a bit of cowardice quite frankly, on the part of the owner. but at a larger level, a more macro level, I mean this is what we’re seeing all the time. I mean, cancel culture is now part of our lexicon. cancel culture is a real issue in our culture today," said Steve Turley, who is one of the producers of the documentary.
But other people believe the business made the right choice -- and that there would have been a backlash no matter what the decision.
“I think that there would’ve been a lot of backlash either way," said Alisha Marie, a Lancaster County resident. "You’re going to get people who are unhappy with the decision that they made. Some people wouldn’t go there because they canceled it. Some people won’t go there because they played it."
From a First Amendment perspective, experts say the theater's ownership has every right to decide what kind of movies they want to show.
“The movie theater is not a government agency, and the first amendment provides people the right to be free from restrictions on their speech when those restrictions are imposed by the government," said Michael Dimino, a law professor at the Widener University Commonwealth Law School. "But the First Amendment provides no right to be free from restrictions imposed by private people or companies, including movie theaters, including employers and including each one of us."
A second venue, the Wyndham Lancaster Resort and Convention Center also canceled plans to host the premiere.
The producer of the documentary says they have a found a new venue where they will be able to show the documentary, and they will be releasing more information as it gets closer to the date.