In 2014, LOOK Cinemas Luxury Movie Theater in Dallas approached local Fish attorneys as they found themselves in the cross-hairs of a dispute with AMC, one of the largest theater operators in the world.

In-Depth

In 2014, LOOK Cinemas Luxury Movie Theater in Dallas approached local Fish attorneys as they found themselves in the crosshairs of a dispute with AMC, one of the largest theater operators in the world.

The dispute relied on a 1948 Supreme Court decision in the United States v. Paramount Pictures. This landmark antitrust decision opened competition in the movie business to all levels, but in particular gave protections to new theater owners who wanted to open theaters to compete with former studio-owned theaters by assuring the new entrant “clearance.” This pro-competitive tool provided that studios could enter into exclusive deals which would allow only a single theater in a particular area to exhibit the studio’s films. In 2014, AMC had recently built a theater less than a mile from LOOK and had received “clearance” from a large studio for a blockbuster movie, which blocked LOOK from also showing this huge movie which was sure to attract droves of viewers.

Instead of charging into the courtroom, Fish attorneys used a unique tactic to creatively solve this problem. They took to the streets to build awareness around this “David vs. Goliath” plight. The media immediately picked up on the public’s concern of consumer deprivation of choices. Soon, LOOK Cinema’s dilemma was featured in the Wall Street Journal, LA Times, and Variety. These headlines attracted lawsuits from other theaters facing the same issues with big theater chains.

This media campaign also captivated the attention of authority: the Department of Justice. The DOJ launched their very own investigations into the “clearance” practice and asked big theater chains and studios to provide documents, information, and interviews on the practice. Fish also approached the Texas Attorney General with their concerns, who launched their very own antitrust investigation. This, in turn, led to about a dozen other state Attorney Generals to open formal investigations against big theaters and studios.

As of May 26, 2016 four major Hollywood studios have agreed to no longer participate in the practice of “clearance” from theater chains. Fish has a long history of changing industries through protecting and bringing new ideas to the marketplace, but we also have a history of helping shape those industries for the better.