EXCLUSIVE: Flagship Theatres has achieved another win in its circuit dealing case against Cinemark, heading back to Los Angeles Superior Court with a new date and new judge. Flagship won a reversal in the California Court of Appeal, 2nd District after Judges Allan J. Goodman and H. Chester Horn, Jr. threw the case out in 2013 over the loss of business emails between Flagship co-owner Brian Tabor and numerous studio parties he was involved with in booking films at the Palm Desert venue. The appeals court ruled that Goodman and Horn’s previous ruling was an abuse of discretion.

The win on appeal came after after arguments were heard before the judge by both parties on on May 17th. This also comes at a time of great scrutiny by the courts and federal and state investigative bodies into the clearance issue between exhibition and the studios. While no trial date has yet been set for the Flagship v. Century Theaters (Cinemark) case, one has been set for another high-profile case involving theater chains Regal and AMC. The lawsuit that charged both with conspiracy by upscale theater chain iPic’s who state that the larger circuits were working together to kill off the competition in certain markets is going forward and scheduled for trial on Oct. 3 in Texas.

The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and several state attorneys general are taking this issue quite seriously and have been investigating the competitive practices of Regal, AMC, Cinemark over exclusionary boycott demands and potential violations of antitrust laws.

This case dovetails into that. On April 26, the Cinemas Palme d’Or announced that it was closing its doors on June 30 because they could no longer stay solvent, citing Cinemark’s constant pressure on studios and distributors shutting them out of major titles. Cinemas Palme d’Or’s landlord no longer could offer a lease extension after the theater was continually late with its rent. A new owner has taken over the venue, Tristone Cinema Group of Wildomar, CA., and will re-open the theater under a new name July 1.

The owners of Cinemas Palme d’Or are multi-Emmy winner Bryan Cranston, ESPN Radio host Steve Mason, Andreas Mauritzson and Tabor.

It’s unfortunate that we’ve had to choose this long path to seek justice, but we are pleased with the court’s decision,” Cranston said. “We look forward to telling our story to a jury.”
Added co-owner Mason: “Cinemark has been vicious to deal with from day one. I have spent years begging, coaxing, cajoling and fighting with the studios for film, and Cinemark has used its gigantic circuit size to intimidate distribution. Their sole purpose was to drive us out of business. Cinemark’s focus is on eliminating competition. The system has been rigged against every independent theatre in America.”
Anita Busch contributed to this story.