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Muvico to replace Confederate flag mural
Complaints prompt redesign by new movie theater. Muvico also drops free popcorn offer upstairs.

Date published: 5/18/2010


BY CHELYEN DAVIS


A new movie theater plans to redesign a mural that drew complaints for depicting the Confederate flag.

The Muvico theater, which recently opened behind the Spotsylvania Towne Centre, includes a bar called the Chatterbox, which has a Civil War theme.

In keeping with that theme, owners decided to paint a mural on the wall of an outdoor seating area, which is visible from the front of the theater.

“The whole design, history, is kind of the history of Fredericksburg, the local battles,” said Kris Knox, the theater’s general manager. “We meant [the mural] to be kind of a finishing touch.”

The mural has a United States flag on one side and a Confederate flag on the other, along with stars, an eagle and other adornments.

The idea, Knox said, was to depict the separation of the Union and the Confederacy, and then the reuniting of the two sides.

It was designed by one of the theater owners—a history buff—and Tampa artist Matt Callahan, Knox said.

The mural wasn’t even finished when the theater received complaints about the Confederate flag.

So now Callahan will rework the design, covering the Confederate flag with a Virginia flag, Knox said. Yesterday afternoon, workers were observed painting over the mural.

“Obviously it didn’t come off as we intended,” Knox said. “We feel bad that we offended people.”

The local NBC affiliate in Washington did a story on the mural, and on the station’s website, Callahan posted a response.

He said, in part, that the mural “was never meant to offend, and the use of the flag was in a historical context.”

Callahan wrote that he will be changing the design “to better represent the concept” of the two sides coming together, and apologized to anyone who was offended.

Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028
cdavis@freelancestar.com


NO MORE FREE POPCORN IN UPSTAIRS THEATERS

The Muvico theater in Spotsylvania County has ended the practice of giving free popcorn to people who pay the extra $5 to watch movies in the upstairs theaters, where patrons must be 21 or older. Mike Whalen, a principal in the operation, said in an e–mail that the free popcorn “was an opening weekend promo.” Popcorn now costs the same upstairs and downstairs.

—Bill Freehling