Movietickets.com is suing AMC Entertainment for breach of contract in a Florida circuit court, the online ticket seller said Wednesday.
AMC is one of Movietickets.com's founding shareholders and retains in an equity stake in the company. However, AMC recently announced that it has signed a multi-year agreement with Movietickets.com's rival Fandango to sell tickets to its theaters.
Movietickets.com claims that pact is in violation of its joint venture agreement with AMC. Under that agreement, the theater chain was supposed to sell its tickets exclusively to Movietickets.com.
Movietickets.com claims that AMC breached its contract after the ticket seller refused the theater chain's demands for greater control of the company.
The suit is joined by other founding shareholders National Amusements and Hollywood Media Corp.
"Not content with the percentage of MovieTickets.com it previously negotiated for, AMC has intentionally sought to destroy MovieTickets.com's present opportunity to maximize its value by achieving competitive dominance in the marketplace," the suit reads.
Spokesmen for both companies declined to comment.
Although AMC was contractually obligated to provide tickets to Movietickets.com, its agreement was amended after AMC merged with Loews in 2005. Fandango had provided tickets to Lowes prior to the merger, but a deal was in place to shift those roughly 2,000 screens to Movietickets.com when the agreement expired in September 2011, according to an individual with knowledge of the litigation.
Prior to that time, Movietickets.com was selling tickets to some 3,000 screens in the AMC network -- screens that will now be serviced by Fandango.
Movietickets.com said that it had tried to resolve the dispute among the founding shareholders, but AMC nevertheless disabled its ticketing inventory.
In addition, the suit alleges that AMC used its insider status to thwart a $150 million to $160 million offer from Comcast to purchase MovieTickets.com and impeded a possible merger with Fandango.
The ticket seller is seeking unspecified damages and a possible injunction. It clams breach of contract and common law duties of good faith, fair dealing and violations of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.