A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit asserting that AMC Entertainment Inc. demanded that movie studios not license choice titles to a competitor or face damaging their relationship with the Leawood-based theater company, according to a movie industry trade publication.
U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross in Atlanta wrote in a decision issued Friday that Cobb Theatres had presented sufficient evidence to move forward on its claims of potential antitrust violations, according to a Hollywood Reporter story.
Cobb Theatres, based in Birmingham, Ala., operates seven CineBistros throughout the country, but its lawsuit filed in early 2014 focused on a complex it owns in Brookhaven, Ga.
The suit says AMC, which operates two nearby multiplexes, made requests to gain titles for showing only at those properties, the trade publication said.
Cobb Theatres contended that an AMC executive sent a letter to major film studio distributors seeking preferential or exclusive licensing treatment.
As a result, Cobb Theatres argued, it has been unable to draw more high-grossing popular films, according to the Hollywood Reporter story.
AMC argued in court documents that Cobb Theatres hadn’t adequately alleged the existence of a conspiracy, an unreasonable restraint on trade, or harm to the competition. However, the judge wrote that the argument was “without merit,” the trade publication said.
In a statement Tuesday, AMC said, “Although we were cautiously hopeful for an early dismissal of Cobb’s claims on the court papers alone, the court’s order did not find that any of Cobb’s allegations were true. Instead, Cobb will now be required to present actual facts to try to prove the claims it made in its complaint.”
AMC called Cobb Theatres’ claims “meritless,” and said it looked forward to showing that it “has simply competed with Cobb in full compliance with applicable law and industry standards.”
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