US: Small movie theaters hit AMC with antitrust suit

A small luxury US movie theater chain, Cinetopia, hit AMC with an antitrust suit in Kansas federal court accusing the country’s largest movie theater company of edging out competition by coercing film distributors into denying nearby theaters screening rights to key films during crucial opening runs.

Cinetopia, a Beaverton based company with four locations, accuses AMC of leveraging exclusive showings of first-run blockbuster films to the detriment of competing theater chains.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Kansas, focuses on Cinetopia’s location in Overland Park development Prairiefire. The lawsuit claims that after Cinetopia rebuffed AMC’s offer to buy the Prairiefire location in 2013, AMC obtained exclusive showings of blockbuster films including “Godzilla,” “Million Dollar Arm” and “The Good Dinosaur.”

Cinetopia said AMC’s practice, known in the industry as “movie clearance,” torpedoed Cinetopia’s business prospects in Overland Park.

The Cinetopia lawsuit points to other instances in which it’s alleged that AMC exerted pressure on competitors through movie clearance. An example cited in the lawsuit is a 2010 instance in which AMC allegedly used movie clearance against Studio Movie Grill in the Northland, prompting Studio Movie Grill to close and leave AMC’s Barrywood 24 complex as the only theater in the area.

Full Content: Kansas City

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