Theaters in three of the 22 markets where Landmark Theatres looms large are taking the Wagner/Cuban entity to court.
One of the country’s biggest specialty theater chains is under fire from competition. Leadership from numerous arthouse enclaves have banded together for an anti-trust lawsuit against Landmark Theaters and its parent company, 2929 Entertainment. The Sept. 27 complaint from Denver Film Society (DFS), Cinema Detroit, West End Cinema and the Avalon Theatre alleges that the national chain of 51 outposts is “coercing agreements from film distributors for exclusive rights to screen art, independent, foreign and documentary films,” thus blocking the arthouse plaintiffs from showing what their audiences most want to watch.
Now, many of the key figures involved in the lawsuit are speaking out to elaborate on their concerns.
According to the complaint, filed in Washington, D.C. district court, distributors typically notified indie exhibitors from the outset that they could not present certain films, citing “clearances”—release-related agreements—with Landmark. Yet in several instances, distributors backtracked (either temporarily or permanently) on providing films they had promised to those theaters, with little notice.
That is what happened when nonprofit Cinema Detroit—which co-founder Paula Guthat describes as both the greater downtown area’s lone “truly independent” and seven-days-per-week movie theater—attempted to show A24’s “Room” last year. “Twice we put out showtimes and they were syndicated to all the sites and then we had to go out and say, ‘Sorry, we’re not gonna have it on this date,’” said Guthat. “That was extremely damaging to us and our reputation.” Cinema Detroit was also never able to screen the 2016 Best Picture winner, “Spotlight.” Meanwhile, “Moonlight,” “Hell or High Water,” and “Birdman (or The Expected Virtue of Ignorance)” only arrived there weeks after their…