An independent exhibitor going up against Cinemark notched another victory as an appeals court issued another ruling in its favor. Flagship Theatres of Palm Desert, owner of the 10-screen Cinemas Palme d’Or, claims that Cinemark uses its market muscle to force the studios to deny the independent theater the films that moviegoers want to see. Last week, the California State Court of Appeals denied a motion by Cinemark for a rehearing. The appeals court ruled last month to reinstate the suit after State Superior Court dismissed it in 2008. Cinemas Palme d’Or co-owner Steve Mason said the case has a chance to preserve independent theaters nationwide. “Instead of receiving a proportion of available film product, we got virtually no meaningful film product. Absolutely nothing, except for very small releases,” Mason said. “Cinemark is huge, and the fact that 91% of its theaters are in non-competitive zones gives them real monopolized leverage. They have the power to shut down independent theaters wherever they do business.” Flagship Theaters wants to show that Cinemark engages in “circuit dealing,” in which an owner of multiple theaters uses its combined purchasing power to bid for films rather than bidding competitively for each of its theaters. Its lawsuit claims Cinemark’s Century Theaters gets higher-quality films for its Century 15 at the River theater, located in Rancho Mirage less than two miles from Palme D’Or, at less cost because of its size. Top distribution executives from major studios are expected to testify when the suit goes to trial in Los Angeles Superior Court.
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