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Aurora, Colo., theater opens to shooting victims and their families

Jonathan Castner / AFP - Getty Images file

Police cars are seen in in this July 20, 2012 photo in front of the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colorado.

The Aurora, Colo., theater where a gunman opened fire at movie-goers in a midnight premiere of a Batman movie, killing 12 and injuring 58, is open to victims and their families.

The theater was reopened on Tuesday and Wednesday for private visits, and on Thursday a grand opening ceremony and formal reopening is planned, local media reported.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, and Cinemark CEO Tim Warner were expected to speak at the event, billed as a remembrance, the Denver Post reported.

Initially, some victims’ families were outraged by the invitation from Cinemark to attend the event, but others have said that visiting the theater is important to healing from the tragedy.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed by saying the theater owner didn’t provide enough security the night of July 20, 2012.

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James Holmes, who authorities said dressed as the Joker as he sprayed gunfire at people attending “The Dark Knight Rising,” is accused in the crimes. He has not entered a plea.

The movie house gets a new name, “Century Aurora,” and was expected to be completely remodeled into an XD theater with a wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor screen.

Pierce O’Farrill, who survived the shooting but was shot three times, told the CBS station in Denver he plans to attend.

“It’s important for me, for my healing to go back to that place. I was very close to death,” O’Farrill told CBS4. “For me I think it’s therapeutic.”

Tom Sullivan’s son Alex was killed in the shooting. He will be attending as a tribute to his son, who loved going to the movies, he told local media.

"Sometimes people in the community might look to some of us who have lost a loved one, to see if it's OK to laugh again or go to the movies," Sullivan told the Denver Post. "And for me, it is OK. Going to the movies is what I like to do." 

Two fathers of Aurora theater victims describe watching the accused gunman, James Holmes, in court. KUSA's Todd Walker reports.