ENTERTAINMENT

Movie theater serving Hispanics sues AMC for alleged exclusivity pacts with studios

BURBANK, CA - JUNE 18:  Crowds gather at the new AMC Burbank 16 in Burbank, California. The grand opening/benefit event honored actor Kevin Bacon and his films. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

BURBANK, CA - JUNE 18: Crowds gather at the new AMC Burbank 16 in Burbank, California. The grand opening/benefit event honored actor Kevin Bacon and his films. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)  (2003 Getty Images)

A small movie theater in Houston that caters to the Hispanic community is taking on AMC Entertainment, blaming the theater exhibitor giant of throwing them out of business.

In an antitrust lawsuit, Viva Cinemas Theaters accuses AMC of allegedly pressuring Hollywood studios to deny them access to popular new releases – blockbusters they typically dub into Spanish or add subtitles for non-English speakers.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the lawsuit was brought on Monday in Texas federal court. Viva claims that AMC took action once it learned of its business plan, aimed at an “unserved market,” by threatening the distribution of films produced by seven Hollywood studios.

The studios are not mentioned in the lawsuit, but HR said Disney, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros are among the ones who backed AMC in not licensing to Viva such films as “Iron Man 3,” “Captain Phillips,” “Fast and Furious 6” and “Gravity.”

Viva Cinemas, which started service in 2013, claims AMC’s actions have resulted in "severe damage to Viva Cinema, to competition, and to the Spanish-speaking Houston film-going public."
According to the complaint, while Viva Cinemas was operative AMC showed some films in Spanish or with Spanish subtitles very rarely – and only during matinee, not evening showings.

“Once Viva Cinema went out of business,” the plaintiff claims, “AMC went back to its prior practices of exhibiting no, or virtually no, Spanish language films, and—if exhibiting them at all—only on an extremely limited basis."

A similar lawsuit against AMC was filed in Georgia last month, brought by independent theater Cobb Theaters.

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