Theater owner won't show 'Lee Daniels' The Butler'

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Boutwell has policy against showing Fonda movies

By Amber Coulter

Last weekend’s top movie for ticket sales isn’t coming to Hardin County.


Lee Daniels’ The Butler” brought in an estimated $25 million on its opening weekend with its portrayal of Cecil Gaines, who served eight U.S. presidents as a butler in the White House.

Movie Palace and Showtime Cinemas owner Ike Boutwell said selling more tickets to the popular movie, which features Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, isn’t a good enough reason to play the movie in his theater.

To his knowledge, since he opened the theater in the late 1980s, Boutwell never has shown a movie involving Fonda.

The U.S. Marines Corps veteran of the Korean War trained pilots during the Vietnam War, because he was too old so see action there himself.

Fonda’s famous anti-Vietnam War statements and demonstrations caused Boutwell to view her as a traitor to America. He said no movie involving her will show in his theater as long as he’s in charge.

“I trained hundreds of pilots to fly, many of whom Ms. Fonda clapped and cheered as they were shot down,” he said. “Our Constitution only mentions three crimes. Treason is one. That’s aid and comfort to the enemy.”

Fonda was part of the 1970 anti-war road show “Free The Army,” and called American political and military leaders war criminals.

She was photographed sitting on an anti-aircraft battery in North Vietnam. She has since said she was manipulated into sitting there. She said the soldiers asked her to sing a song, and she began laughing and clapping with them during the tune as they led her to sit upon the anti-aircraft battery, not noticing what it was.

Veterans across the nation reportedly are boycotting the film because of Fonda’s role as Reagan, and Boutwell thinks other theater operators likely are not showing the film for the same reason.

“To add to this, I just really think it’s a slap in the face to have a person of treason portray a patriotic lady, Mrs. Reagan,” he said. “I just think that is throwing gas on the fire.”

Terrie Smith of Radcliff said she and a few other women tried to see the film Friday at Movie Palace in Elizabethtown.

They hadn’t looked up the list of movies playing at the theater, assuming the big-name movie would be playing on the night of its release.

They were told it wasn’t showing there, she said.

Smith hasn’t made a trip to Louisville to see the movie and does not think she’ll return to the Movie Palace in Elizabethtown to see other releases.

She said it doesn’t seem like a good business decision not to show a movie because of the owner’s feelings about an actress.

Boutwell said the possibility of losing money won’t make him change his mind.

“In life, you’ve got to stand for something, and that’s where I stand,” he said. “It makes me feel that I’m honoring those who died for this country.”

Boutwell said he has not heard any complaints about the policy.

Amber Coulter can be reached at 270-505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.