Landmark Cinemas Sues Regal Entertainment Group, Alleging Unfair Competition

Landmark Cinemas has filed a lawsuit against Regal Entertainment Group, alleging that Regal is keeping major releases out of a new Landmark theater in the District, Washington City Paper reported.

At the heart of the lawsuit is Landmark's newest theater, Atlantic Plumbing Cinema, which opened in October at 8th and V streets NW.

Unlike Landmark's other local theaters, which show more independent and foreign films, the new spot is aiming to show more first-run, blockbuster films -- but getting access to those movies has proven difficult, and Landmark says it's due to Regal's exclusive dealings.

Nearly all movie theater seats in the core D.C. market -- 91 percent -- are controlled by Regal, giving them power over movie distributors, alleges the lawsuit. And if Regal isn't granted exclusive rights to screen a film, Regal will threaten not to show the film, jeopardizing distributors' bottom lines, the suit claims.

Regal, the largest theater chain in the U.S., owns 12 theaters in the D.C. area; Landmark operates four theaters in D.C. and has just 52 theaters throughout the country.

"Regal has used its national circuit power, its dominant presence in the greater D.C. area, and its monopoly power in the relevant markets to coerce film distributors to deprive Landmark, its competitor in the relevant markets of fair competitive access to commercial films," said the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court Jan. 26.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2" are two of the films that Landmark did not screen, allegedly because of Regal.

Regal took actions against movie distributors who dealt with Landmark, according to the lawsuit, when Atlantic Plumbing first opened.

Atlantic Plumbing showed Universal Pictures' film "Steve Jobs" on all six screens -- but local Regal theaters responded by blacklisting the film "in retaliation," according to the lawsuit. Movie distributors like Universal Pictures usually make more money by maximizing the number of theaters that show their films.

"Steve Jobs" was a limited release feature shown in other Regal theaters, including one in New York.

Regal officials said they do not comment on current litigation.

Landmark has not returned an interview request.

Ironically, Josh Levin, the former owner of West End Cinema, complained to Washingtonian that Landmark struck similar deals with indie movie distributors that harmed the now-closed cinema he operated.

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