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AMC Theatres Sued by Florida Mall Owners After Not Paying Rent

Lawsuit seeks in excess of $7.5 million in damages after AMC location did not pay $52,000 in rent for April

The owners of a South Florida shopping mall have sued AMC Theatres after the nationwide theater chain told landlords that it would not be paying rent for April in an effort to control costs during the coronavirus lockdown.

The suit, filed in federal court in Miami by Palm Springs Mile Associates, Ltd., seeks in excess of $7.5 million in damages. The lawsuit alleges that the theater on the landlord’s grounds, AMC Hialeah 12, did not pay $52,153.87 in rent. It also says that the coronavirus pandemic does not trigger the force majeure clause of the lease, arguing that AMC has committed a breach of contract that requires the theater chain to immediately pay the balance of the multiplex’s lease.

“The Landlord recognizes the challenges posed by COVID-19, including on its own business,” the lawsuit states. “Under the express terms and provisions of the Lease and Guaranty, however, Defendant is obligated to pay Rent and that obligation is not excused.”

A rep for AMC Theatres did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit comes after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced that most businesses, including movie theaters, would be allowed to reopen as early as next week. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has also organized a task force to begin a plan to reopen his state’s economy, but it is unlikely that many movie theaters, including AMC, will be able to reopen on a state-by-state basis anytime soon.

“Until the majority of markets in the U.S. are open, and major markets in particular, new wide release movies are unlikely to be available,” read a statement released by the National Association of Theater Owners on Wednesday. “As a result, some theaters in some areas that are authorized to open may be able economically to reopen with repertory product;  however, many theaters will not be able to feasibly open.”

AMC, which has been closed for over a month and has furloughed all its corporate employees in an effort to remain solvent, announced a $500 million bond offering last week that the company says would allow it to avoid bankruptcy through November. For now, the chain is planning to reopen its theaters in June in anticipation for some summer blockbusters that are still scheduled to be released in July like Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.