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US: AMC chain loses key court ruling

 |  August 22, 2018

This week, a federal judge tossed AMC Entertainment’s attempt to toss out Viva Cinemas antitrust suit over the now shuttered theater’s Spanish-language showings of first-run studio pictures.

District Judge Alfred Bennett on Tuesday, August 21, put things on trail route in rejecting AMC’s motion for summary judgement. It is a rejection, with allegations of illegal “horizontal agreements” between AMC and its thousands of screens and The Walt Disney Company Warner Bros, Fox, Paramount, Universal, Sony, and Lionsgate, may have the studios already feeling a little heat.

Viva Cinemas Theaters, the plaintiff, specializes in serving the Hispanic community with dubbed or subtitled films and alleged in its 2015 complaint that AMC came to “clearance” pacts that carved out exclusivity on first-run films in its geographical region. Locked out of hits including Iron Man and Fast and Furious, Viva went out of business.

AMC argued that Viva failed to present sufficient evidence of horizontal agreements with its suppliers (movie producers), but the judge wants it tested at trial.

“Viva points to four things to support an inference that such agreements existed,” he wrote. “(1) the fact that all the suppliers uniformly refused to license first-run movies to Viva, (2) evidence that the suppliers knew AMC requested a clearance from all the other suppliers at issue, (3) evidence that the suppliers’ uniform compliance with AMC’s request was publically available knowledge, and (4) that such action was against each individual supplier’s self-interest (absent AMC’s request) unless they all acted uniformly as any individual supplier would want their movie in as many theaters as possible and would not want to lose any market space to the other suppliers.”

The decision comes weeks after the Justice Department announced it would be reviewing the Paramount Consent Decrees.

Full Content: Hollywood Reporter

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