‘Slender Man’ movie will not be shown in Milwaukee-area theaters due to stabbing

A movie theater chain in Wisconsin announced it will not be showing the horror film “Slender Man” in theaters in two counties “out of respect” for those impacted by the 2014 stabbing inspired by the fictional character.

Marcus Theaters will not show “Slender Man” in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties, the company said in a statement Wednesday. The film is set to open on Friday

“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,” a statement from the movie theater chain read.

The film focuses on a group of high school girls in a town in Massachusetts who are drawn to the tale of “Slender Man” and try to prove he’s not real. Things are fine until one of them vanishes. The real-life stabbing in connection with “Slender Man” involved Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, who were both 12 at the time of the incident.

The girls told officers they stabbed Payton Leutner, a classmate, to please “Slender Man” and protect their families from the fictional character. Leutner survived the May 31, 2014, stabbing in Waukesha, Wis. after she crawled to a road and was helped by a bicyclist.

The two girls were charged with first-degree intentional homicide for stabbing Leutner 19 times and leaving her to die. They were both convicted but “found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect and have been committed to a state mental hospital,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinelreported.

Geyser pleaded guilty in October to attempted first-degree intentional homicide as part of her plea deal. She was sentenced to 40 years in a mental hospital in February. Weier was sentenced in December to 25 years in a mental health facility. She pleaded guilty in August 2017 to being a party to attempted second-degree intentional homicide, but claimed she wasn’t responsible for her actions because she was mentally ill.

“Slender Man” started with an online post in 2009, as a mysterious specter whose image people edit into everyday scenes of children at play. He is typically depicted as a spidery figure in a black suit with a featureless white face. He was regarded by his devotees as alternately a sinister force and an avenging angel.

Katherine Lam, Nicole Darrah and the Associated Press contributed to this report.