The new horror movie “Slender Man” is opening in some 20 theaters in the Chicago area and many more nationwide Friday — but not in the Milwaukee area.
The movie draws from the same Internet meme that inspired the events in the 2014 Slender Man stabbing case in Waukesha, Wisconsin, but tells a different story.
In the movie, high school girls in a small town in Massachusetts enact a ritual they think will debunk the story of Slender Man, a shadowy figure behind all sorts of evil. But when one of the girls disappears, the others become convinced he’s not only real, but close to killing their friend.
In the Waukesha case, Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, both 12 at the time, were charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide for stabbing classmate Payton Leutner 19 times and leaving her for dead. The girls told police they feared if they didn’t kill their friend, Slender Man would kill them or their families.
Weier and Geyser were both convicted but found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect and have been committed to a state mental hospital.
In a statement, studio Screen Gems said the movie “is based on an original fictional character that became a viral internet sensation. The film is in no way a dramatization of any real-life individuals or events.”
While “Slender Man” will show on more than 2,000 screens nationwide, Marcus Theatres, Wisconsin’s largest theater chain, decided against showing the movie in the Milwaukee area.
In a statement, Ann Stadler, vice president and chief marketing officer for Marcus Theatres, said: “Like many people across the United States, Marcus Theatres was deeply concerned and saddened when the Slender Man phenomenon touched southeastern Wisconsin in such a profound way, changing the lives of many families forever. After careful consideration, and out of respect for those who were impacted, we have decided not to play the upcoming ‘Slender Man’ movie in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties. We will show the film at select other Marcus Theatres locations.”
As of Wednesday, Marcus was showing the movie in just six theaters in Wisconsin, with the Sheboygan Cinema the nearest to Milwaukee.
When the movie was announced last year, it sparked complaints from Anissa Weier’s father, Bill Weier, and led to an online petition seeking to halt the movie’s release. As of this week, more than 19,000 people had signed it.