MERIDIAN, IDAHO — Think of a modern R-rated Hollywood movie that doesn’t “depict sex” in some way. Pretty hard, no?
Meridian Cinemas of Meridian, Idaho runs Village Cinema, some of which have VIP sections allowing adults aged 21 and up to consume alcoholic beverages during a movie, a practice found at certain movie theaters in various places across the United States.
But Idaho has a law forbidding alcoholic beverages during the screening of films and movies that “depict sex.” After receiving tip-offs from concerned citizens, Idaho state police detectives visited a Village Cinema in February, 2015, which was showing the R-rated film “50 Shades of Grey”.
The detectives allegedly purchased a beer and a cocktail inside the auditorium prior to the movie starting, but then entered the theater and consumed their alcoholic beverages while the movie played — in violation of the law.
Idaho authorities threatened the movie theater with the revocation of its liquor license unless it stuck to the rules, but as a great many if not all R-rated Hollywood movies in the 21th century “depict sex” in some form or another, the theater was forced to keep movies such as The Wolf of Wall Street and even reportedly The Revenant out of theaters with VIP alcohol sections; resulting in a drop in revenue.
On January 19, 2016, Meridian Cinemas sued a long list of individuals and groups with the Idaho State Police as well as Idaho’s Alcohol Beverage Control department. Meridian’s contention is simple: the state does not have the right to dictate what legal film is shown in a legal theater for adults of legal age whom are drinking a legal beverage at a location with a legal liquor license.
Meridian Cinemas is requesting a jury trial that could see the state repeal its “no sexual depictions and alcohol at movie theaters” law, which California did in the year 2000, according to the lawsuit.