Hoaxes & Rumors

Did a U.S. Theater Collapse Before Showing Controversial Film?

Did a U.S. Theater Collapse Before Showing Controversial Film?
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A graphic circulating online claims that a theater in the U.S. collapsed before showing an anti-Muslim film. Is there any truth to the story?

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The Story is not real and the Photo is mis-captioned.

The photo has been circulated with the following text,  “…an earthquake hit the cinema of the abusing movie to Prophet Mohammed. The whole cinema is smashed”

Various descriptions of the photo go into more detail, such as this one:

A picture of a cinema in America that was going to play the film of the Prophet Sep 18 at noon. An earthquake hit that area that caused the building into two pieces. The Americans are so shocked at the miracle that they didn’t allow full media coverage on the topic and that’s why you didn’t hear about it on the news today!

The Photo

Now let’s take a look at the photo and the story to see if there is any truth to this account.

The photograph being circulated was actually taken from a news story in 2010 about an earthquake in Chile. The actual photo’s caption reads, “Residents look at a collapsed building in Concepcion, Chile, Saturday Feb. 27, 2010 after an 8.8-magnitude struck central Chile. The epicenter was 70 miles (115 kilometers) from Concepcion, Chile’s second-largest city.”

No Earthquake

According to the US Geological Service, the closest earthquake in the United States during this time period came on September 7, which was a small 3.4  magnitude tremor in Beverly Hills, California. No damage was reported from this quake. You can peruse all earthquakes here, and you’ll see that nothing in the U.S. on September 18 resembles the quake as represented in this story.

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As of this writing, no public screenings of the film are known due to security risks.

Bottom Line

A graphic circulating online claims that a theater in the U.S. collapsed before showing an anti-Muslim film. The supposed photo of the theater included in the graphic actually shows destruction from a 2010 earthquake in Chile. In addition, no significant earthquakes were reported in the U.S. on the date of September 18th. There is no evidence that this event ever occurred.

Updated January 31, 2015
Originally published September 2012

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