The California motion picture industry is big business throughout the world, and a lawsuit brought by Landmark Cinemas, an exhibitor, claims that it is being kept out of the action. Specifically, it blames Regal Entertainment Group, a significantly larger operator, for preventing Landmark from showing popular films by insisting that movie distributors deal exclusively with Regal.
At issue in the lawsuit is the fact that Regal dominates the District of Columbia market with 12 theaters compared to Landmark’s four theaters. When counting theater seats, Regal controls 91 percent of the market in the district. The lawsuit alleges that Regal uses its size to practice unfair competition. It forces distributors to withhold films from competitors. For example, Landmark’s newest theater in D.C. was not able to obtain two important blockbusters “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2.”
The lawsuit alleges that Regal threatens not to show films at all if distributors do not agree to exclusive terms. Because of its size, Regal can motivate distributors to deny other companies access to new releases because of the financial loss they would face if shut out by Regal.
Companies that are threatened by aggressive actions from competitors may have an impulse to immediately seek relief by filing a lawsuit. However, unfair competition that spills over into possible antitrust patterns can be a very complex field, and it would be advisable for a company that finds itself in this type of a position to obtain the assistance of an attorney that has experience with these types of controversies. In some cases it may be possible to achieve a negotiated settlement without having to go to court.