Utah may pull theater’s liquor license for showing ‘Deadpool’

Posted at 8:58 PM, Apr 18, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY -- Citing an obscenity law, Utah officials are threatening to yank the liquor license of a movie theater for showing "Deadpool" and serving alcohol.

Brewvies is now threatening to sue the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control over a state law prohibiting nudity, sex acts and alcohol together in one spot. The theater, however, claims the law is unconstitutional and plans to fight back..

"This isn't supposed to be the Taliban," Brewvies lawyer Rocky Anderson told FOX 13 on Monday. "This is supposed to be a state agency!"

Brewvies faced a Wednesday administrative hearing with the DABC for what is termed a "grave violation" for showing "Deadpool." Penalties include suspending their liquor license for 10 days or revoking it, and fines ranging from $1,000 to $25,000.

Late Monday, the DABC canceled the hearing, Anderson said. However, he said Brewvies was moving forward with a lawsuit against the state in federal court over its law.

According to a report obtained by FOX 13, two undercover investigators went to see the R-rated movie at Brewvies on Feb. 23. Brewvies shows movies and serves alcohol, but under Utah law it is not allowed to show sexual acts or full-nudity.

The report states the officers went into Brewvies, bought beer and sat down to watch the action-comedy.

"The main character (male) in the film is shown numerous times engaging in acts or simulated acts of sexual intercourse with the female counterpart during a holiday themed sex-montage," Agent Bradley Bullock wrote, detailing the sex acts.

"An example of this is during 'International Women's Day' Vanessa looks to be sodomizing Wade in their bed," Agent Sean Cannon wrote in a supplemental report. "Later in the movie, Wade gets into a fight with another character - Ajax played by Ed Skrein. During the fight, Wade's clothing comes off. Wade shows full frontal nudity during the fight scene."

The agents wrote they also observed a fully nude stripper in another scene in the movie.

Agent Cannon wrote in the report he'd seen the movie twice before, so he knew Brewvies had not altered the film to obscure the nudity or sex acts. Anderson called it "laughable" that the DABC would send undercover agents to buy beer and watch a movie on taxpayer dollars.

Anderson called the law "blatantly unconstitutional" and accused the DABC of violating Brewvies' First Amendment rights and those of its customers. He said other states with similar statutes had their laws thrown out by the courts. Idaho recently repealed its law, Anderson said.

"It was absolutely unconstitutional for the DABC to be citing bad law to go after them," he said.

This isn't the first time Brewvies has gotten in trouble for movie nudity and liquor. The theater was previously fined $1,627 for showing "The Hangover Part II," where a transsexual dancer was shown fully nude. DABC records indicate that will not factor in the "Deadpool" hearing.

Anderson said if the DABC doesn't drop the complaint, apologize and refund Brewvies' fine for "The Hangover Part II" he'll take them to court. He threatened to seek a restraining order from a federal court to block the DABC from doing anything to Brewvies.

A spokeswoman for the DABC told FOX 13 on Monday they would not comment, because the case had not been referred to the liquor commission for any action.

"There's not been one liquor law violation at Brewvies. Ever. They only allow people who are 21 in. They've never had a liquor law violation," Anderson said. "So what does the DABC do? They go out and want to censor their movies."