The nation’s three largest movie theater chains are being investigated on antitrust grounds by several states attorney general as well as the U.S. Justice Department.
In Q3 quarterly filings with the Securities Exchange Commission, AMC and Cinemark both acknowledge receiving Civil Investigative Demands from the DOJ’s Antitrust Division.
“The CIDs request the production of documents and answers to interrogatories concerning potentially anticompetitive conduct, including film clearances and participation in certain joint ventures,” AMC said in its Nov. 4 report.
The filing continued: “The company does not believe it has violated federal or state antitrust laws and is cooperating with the relevant governmental authorities.”
In the document, AMC also acknowledged requests from Ohio, Florida, Kansas, New York, Texas, Washington and the District of Columbia.
Cinemark’s disclosure to the SEC also acknowledges inquiries into “matters including film clearances,” and “related joint ventures,” as well as “potential coordination and/or communication with other major theatre circuits.” The company does not believe its liability poses a material threat to its financial position.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said that his office was the first of 10 jurisdictions looking at whether America’s top three theater chains — AMC, Cinemark and Regal — have been squeezing smaller competitors.
“All businesses should have a fair chance to compete,” DeWine said in a press release. “We’re investigating the movie theater chains because of concerns that smaller, independent businesses have been unfairly pushed out of the market.”
DeWine cites “so-called exclusionary conduct” by AMC, Cinemark and Regal “that would limit consumers’ choices and stifle innovation.”
AMC, Cinemark and Regal have not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.