Mark Cuban’s Landmark Theatres denied dismissal of ‘exploitation’ lawsuit

A federal judge denied a motion made by Landmark Theatres to dismiss a lawsuit filed by independent movie theaters accusing the nationwide arthouse chain owned by Mark Cuban of coercing studios into giving them exclusive exhibition licenses.

The lawsuit, which was filed by indie locations in Denver, Detroit, and D.C. last year, accused Landmark of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act by using its market power to squeeze out smaller theaters to guarantee exclusive screenings of specialty films. The lawsuit stated that, in 2016, Landmark itself had sued Regal Cinemas, accusing it of using its influence as a larger nationwide chain to make exclusive deals with studios to exhibit their films. That lawsuit was settled seven months later.

“Just as Landmark sought relief from Regal’s anticompetitive clearances with respect to Commercial Films (and succeeded), Plaintiffs seek relief from Landmark’s exploitation of its circuit power to demand and obtain clearances from distributors against Plaintiffs for Specialty Films,” states the lawsuit from The Avalon Theatre Project, West End Cinema, the Denver Film Society and Cinema Detroit.

Now, according to a Friday ruling obtained by TheWrap, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan said the plaintiffs had sufficient evidence of circuit dealing and monopolization attempts made by Landmark to proceed with the suit. Specifically, Sullivan wrote that Landmark had used its “considerable influence over distributors” and large presence among arthouse moviegoers in the cities in question to make deals that would allow them to exclusively screen highly anticipated indie films.RELATED: Take a look at Mark Cuban through the years:

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Mark Cuban through the years
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 5: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban prior to the game against the Houston Rockets on December 5, 2000 at Compaq Center in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 5: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban prior to the game against the Houston Rockets on December 5, 2000 at Compaq Center in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 5: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban prior to the game against the Houston Rockets on December 5, 2000 at Compaq Center in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 5: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban greets Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets prior to the game on December 5, 2000 at Compaq Center in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
DALLAS - 2001: (L-R) Dirk Nowitzki #41, Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban and Michael Finley #4 of the Dallas Mavericks pose for a portrait circa 2001 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2001 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
DALLAS, UNITED STATES: Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban celebrates a Mavericks' three-point play to end the first half of play versus the Boston Celtics at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas, 22 February 2001. AFP PHOTO/Paul BUCK (Photo credit should read PAUL BUCK/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 17: Owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks during the game against the Charlotte Hornets on January 17, 2001 at Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 2039 -- Pictured: (l-r) American businessman Mark Cuban during an interview with host Jay Leno on April 17, 2001 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DALLAS, UNITED STATES: Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban applauds during game action versus the Utah Jazz at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas 28 April 2001. The Mavericks beat the Jazz 94-91 to force game four in their Western Conference first round playoff series. AFP PHOTO/Paul BUCK (Photo credit should read PAUL BUCK/AFP/Getty Images)
DALLAS, UNITED STATES: Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban (R) high-fives fans after the Mavericks beat the San Antonio Spurs at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas, 12 May 2001. The Mavericks avoided the sweep with a 112-108 victory in the best of seven Western Conference semifinal playoffs. AFP PHOTO/Paul BUCK (Photo credit should read PAUL BUCK/AFP/Getty Images)
4 Apr 2002: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban cheers for his team during the NBA game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The Mavs won, 115-90. \ NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. \ Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright 2002 NBAE \ Mandatory Credit: Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images
SACRAMENTO - MAY 6: Owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks shakes hands with NBC broadcaster Bill Walton before the Western Conference Semi-final game against the Sacramento Kings at Arco Arena in Sacramento, California on May 6, 2002. The Mavericks won 110-102. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright 2002 NBAE (Photo by: Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images)
DALLAS - NOVEMBER 6: Team owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks looks on while Dallas faces the Memphis Grizzlies November 6, 2004 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Madatory Copyright: Copyright 2004 NBAE (Photo By Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 28: Warner Indepentents' Mark Gill (L), actress Keira Knightley and exec. producer Mark Cuban pose at the after-party for the premiere of Warner Independent Pictures' 'The Jacket' at Falcon on February 28, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
DALLAS - DECEMBER 30: Owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks watches the game against the Golden State Warriors at American Airlines Arena on December 30, 2005 in Dallas, Texas. The Warriors won 111-109. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2005 NBAE (Photo by Tim Heitman/NBAE via Getty Images)
DALLAS - MAY 15: Owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks speaks with Chris Bosh before the game against the San Antonio Spurs in game four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2006 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 15, 2006 in Dallas, Texas. The Mavericks won 123-118. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2006 NBAE (Photo By Tim Heitman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stands behind the Dallas bench in the opening minutes against the New York Knicks during their NBA game February 24, 2014 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Mavericks won, 110-108. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 17: Owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks looks on during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 17, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Mavericks defeated the Suns 110-107. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, speaks with members of the media as he exits federal court in Dallas, Texas, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. Cuban said he doesn't recall details of a conversation in which he was allegedly warned that information he received about a company was confidential. Photographer: Mike Fuentes/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, left, exits federal court in Dallas, Texas, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. Cuban goes to trial over regulators' claims he engaged in insider trading when he sold his stake in a Canadian Internet search company nine years ago. Photographer: Ben Torres/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: TV personality Mark Cuban attends the 2013 American Music Awards Powered by Dodge at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/AMA2013/Getty Images for Dodge)
The Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (24) is hugged Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban after the Mavs' 90-82 win at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. (Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA,PA - NOVEMBER 16: Owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban looks on against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on November 16, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 16: Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, looks on prior to the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on November 16, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES CA - OCTOBER 29: Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, follows the action from behind the bench during the third quarter of the basketball game against Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center October 29, 2015, in Los Angeles California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Mark Cuban, Investor, Entrepreneur and Owner, Dallas Mavericks, offers his critique to finalists at the Global Startup Showcase, as one of four judges at 2015 WSJD Live on October 20, 2015 in Laguna Beach, California. WSJ D Live brings together top CEOs, founders, pioneers, investors and luminaries to explore the most exciting tech opportunities emerging around the world. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Dallas Mavericks basketball team, left, and his wife Tiffany Cuban arrive at a state dinner in honor of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. The U.S. and China announced agreement on broad anti-hacking principles aimed at stopping the theft of corporate trade secrets though President Barack Obama pointedly said he has not ruled out invoking sanctions for violators. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Dallas Mavericks basketball team, left, and his wife Tiffany Cuban arrive at a state dinner in honor of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. The U.S. and China announced agreement on broad anti-hacking principles aimed at stopping the theft of corporate trade secrets though President Barack Obama pointedly said he has not ruled out invoking sanctions for violators. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
SHARK TANK - Lori Greiner, Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Barbara Corcoran, Robert Herjavec and Kevin O'Leary is a 'Shark' on ABC's 'Shark Tank.' (Photo by Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty Images)
SHARK TANK - Mark Cuban is a 'Shark' on ABC's 'Shark Tank.' (Photo by Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty Images)
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“Despite Landmark’s arguments to the contrary, plaintiffs allege that distributors must agree to Landmark’s clearance demands or risk damaging their relationship with the largest specialty film exhibitor,” read the judge’s ruling.

Landmark had argued that making city-by-city deals with the distributors was not an antitrust violation, but the judge said plaintiffs had presented enough evidence of anticompetitive behavior through their own negotiations with distributors for the lawsuit to proceed.

“Here, plaintiffs allege that distributors frequently booked specialty film showings with plaintiffs and later cancelled the bookings, often at the last minute, ‘due to Landmark’s clearance demands.’ Landmark’s plausibly coercive conduct is also reflected in the favorable clearances and the advantageous terms that Landmark allegedly obtained from distributors across the three markets at issue.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

Read original story Mark Cuban’s Landmark Theatres Denied Dismissal of ‘Exploitation’ Lawsuit At TheWrap

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