The Colorado movie theatre at the centre of a horrific gun massacre last July (13) reopened on Thursday night (17Jan13) with a private screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Suspected gunman James Holmes allegedly opened fire on cinema-goers during a midnight showing of Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises at the Century 16 complex in Aurora last summer (Jul12), killing 12 film fans and injuring 58 others.

The cinema has remained closed for six months as the local community struggled to come to terms with the atrocity, but it reopened on Thursday with a ceremony of remembrance followed by a private screening of The Lord of the Rings prequel for survivors and victims' families.

However, many of those affected by the shooting criticised the reopening plans and boycotted the event.

In a previously released letter to bosses of the cinema complex, they wrote, "Our family members will never be on this Earth with us again and a movie ticket and some token words from people who didn't care enough to reach out to us, nor respond when we reached out to them to talk, is appalling."

Holmes, 25, is awaiting arraignment on 166 charges - including murder and attempted murder - stemming from the 20 July (12) rampage. He is due back in court in March (13).