Utah theater asks judge to block law in "Deadpool" case

AP News
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Posted: Apr 29, 2016 7:10 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah theater in trouble for serving booze during the movie "Deadpool" asked a judge to block enforcement of an obscenity law it says is so broad it would apply to an exhibit of Michelangelo's statue "David."

Brewvies in Salt Lake City sought the restraining order Thursday against state alcohol authorities as it faces a fine of up to $25,000 and possible revocation of its liquor license after undercover officers attended a screening of the R-rated antihero film in February.

The state contends the theater doesn't need a restraining order because alcohol officials have agreed to put their case on hold as Brewvies' challenge of the law plays out, according to court documents filed Friday.

Utah filed a complaint under the state obscenity law that's usually used to regulate alcohol at strip clubs but also bans serving booze during films with simulated sex or full-frontal nudity.

Brewvies says that law is vague and violates its right to free speech.

Brewvies attorney Rocky Anderson said Friday that alcohol authorities have used the law as a club, fining the theater for selling drinks at "The Hangover Part II" in 2011 and threatening punishment last year in connection with "Magic Mike XXL" and "Ted 2."

Anderson says the state's promise not to enforce the "Deadpool" complaint isn't enough.

"If there's some technical violation of this ridiculous statute they could be cited again," he said.

The star of the movie, Ryan Reynolds, has tweeted his support of the theater and donated $5,000 to an online fundraising campaign to help with legal bills.

The Utah attorney general's office says the state will defend the obscenity law and any changes to state liquor laws should go through the Legislature. State liquor officials declined to comment.

Utah's law is similar to an Idaho measure that lawmakers repealed this year when a theater sued after its liquor license was threatened for showing "Fifty Shades of Grey" while serving alcohol.