Palm Desert Indie Theater Wins Another Court Ruling

Appellate court rejects defendant Cinemark’s request for rehearing; indie Palme D’Or to begin subpoenaing studio executives

It's now David 2, Goliath 0.

An independent movie theater in Palm Desert has won its second favorable appellate court ruling and will proceed with its antitrust suit against rival mega-chain Cinemark.

Late last week, an appellate court rejected a request from defendant Cinemark for a rehearing. Cinemark was trying to reverse an August ruling, in which the appellate court overturned a Superior Court's decision to toss independent theater Cinemas Palme D'Or's case.

Also Read: Indie Theater Wins Key Appeal in Battle Against Big Cinemark Chain

In a lawsuit that's now nearly a decade old, Cinemas Palme D'Or, which is co-owned by ESPN radio host Steve Mason and Emmy-winning actor Bryan Cranston, among others, alleges that Cinemark has used its market power to keep it from getting big, commercially viable movies.

Attorneys for the Cinemas Palme D'Or have long wanted to subpoena distribution executives to find out if the theater chain Cinemark engaged in an illegal practice called "circuit dealing," in which large companies use their leverage to keep good films out of from small movie houses.

It sued Cinemark — but a Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissed the suit.

Cinemas Palme D'Or opened in 2003 and struggled to get big movies. The company says that a nearby movie theater, The River, prevented studios from sending commercially viable movies to the smaller theater. The River is owned by Cinemark.

According to Cinemas Palme D'Or, "major studio distribution executives denied superior offers from Cinemas Palme D'Or for significant releases because of Cinemark's penchant for strong-arming and threats to retaliate by denying studio distributors critical runs in other markets."

Cinemark has denied the charges.