THEATER CHAIN FINED FOR VIOLATING ANTITRUST LAW
Mann Theatres Corp. of California has pleaded guilty in Denver Federal Court of violating antitrust law, and has been fined $375,000 for conspiring with other theater chains to control the distribution of first-run films.
According to a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court, the company agreed with Commonwealth Theaters and American Multi-Cinema to eliminate competition for licenses to show films in Denver from 1979 through 1984.
Mann faces a maximum fine of $1 million.
Phillip Warren, assistant U.S. attorney for the Department of Justice antitrust division in San Francisco, said an investigation is continuing.
American Multi-Cinema and Commonwealth are named in the criminal complaint as co-conspirators, although no complaint was filed in Denver against either company.
John Ruth, western division manager for Commonwealth, said, “Just about every company has been having grand jury investigations on this thing, Commonwealth included, and we’ve cooperated.”
Normally, film distributors award licenses to exhibitors based on competitive bids. The complaint said the three theater chains decided among themselves which chain would bid for specific first-run films.
The statement said James Bishop and Pat Rembusch, both film buyers for Mann, admitted the company met at least five times a year with employees of other chains to divide up film bids.
Warren said Bishop and Rembusch no longer work for Mann.