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Author Topic: LOOK vs AMC
Brad Miller
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From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
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 - posted 10-18-2014 02:10 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Interesting article, but the author REALLY needs to let go of the pathetically overused mispelling of "reel" in movie related articles.

A reel fight? LOOK Cinemas accuses AMC Theatres of trying to hoard first-run movies

quote:
By Robert Wilonsky
rwilonsky@dallasnews.com
7:21 am on October 18, 2014

LOOK Cinemas, the self-proclaimed “luxury” multiplex on Belt Line Road, is accusing the mighty AMC Theatres of trying to poach its product — first-run movies. And what for now is just a war of words could serve as a teaser-trailer for the main attraction: a lawsuit.

The Chinese-owned chain, the world’s largest, is days away from opening the AMC Village on the Parkway 9 at Belt Line and the Dallas North Tollway. That’s less than a mile from the LOOK location, which opened March 2013.

According to LOOK founder Tom Stephenson, AMC, which has 350 theaters in the U.S. alone, has told distributors to choose between AMC or LOOK, which Stephenson finds especially troubling since LOOK has but the single location in North Dallas. He says it’s already impacting business: Lionsgate, he says, has told LOOK it’s putting The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 at the AMC multiplex when the film bows in mid-November, while Disney’s taking its Big Hero 6 to the Village on the Parkway on November 7.

“We played The Hunger Games: Catching Fire last year, and it was a hugely successful movie for us,” Stephenson says. But now, he says, “We’ve been told we can’t book it this year. AMC insisted on this clearance issue, so now you can’t see it here.”

Stephenson says he first found out about AMC’s campaign when he received a flier one of the chain’s film buyers sent to distributors in September. The flier, which is below, announces the October 31 soft-opening of the AMC Village on the Parkway 9, touts its amenities (“luxurious plush leather recliners,” a bar, etc.) and concludes by noting the existence of the LOOK just down the street.

“One last important point to know about our new theatre is that it is located less than 1 mile from Look Cinemas,” says the note from buyer Debbie Pennie. “As such, we will not be licensing films day-and-date with this theatre. In early November, we invite our guests to do moviegoing like it has never been done before!”

“And our interpretation of that statement is that AMC is trying to strong-arm the film distribution companies into giving them exclusivity with films,” says attorney Brett Johnson, a principal at Fish & Richardson. “They have a superior size not only here in Dallas but throughout the U.S., and they are raising the film distribution companies’ awareness that size matters.”

AMC’s director of corporate communications Ryan Noonan disputes LOOK’s allegations.

“The point that ‘AMC has told distributors not to give them first-run films’ is false,” he says via email. “For decades, standard industry practice has dictated that distributors allocate their movies between theatres that operate in close proximity to each other and compete for the same customers. Exhibitors and distributors have long agreed this practice ensures superior guest experience and film profitability. … These two theatres, located a mile away from each other, were in development at the same time and it should have been everyone’s expectation that this standard industry practice would apply. That’s the way the industry works.”

But this isn’t the first time AMC’s been accused of anti-competitive conduct.

In January Georgia-based Cobb Theaters filed a federal antitrust lawsuit that alleges AMC “has used its worldwide and national circuit power and its market power in a substantial number of geographic markets to coerce film distributors to deprive Cobb, its only competitor in one of the relevant geographic and product markets, of fair competitive access to films to exhibit to the public at its competing theater.” The suit alleges AMC is engaged in a “ruthless campaign” to crush the competition. AMC has denied the allegations and said the suit was brought solely because Cobb was “unable to best AMC in the marketplace.”

Johnson and Stephenson say they sent AMC a letter outlining their concerns.

“We told them such an agreement was anti-competitive and not in the best interest of the moviegoing public in Dallas,” Johnson says. “We also told them we hoped they would cease and that we’d have to consider all legal actions to protect the client and their customers.” He says AMC denied the allegations.

“But they also justified” trying to get the first-run films, Johnson says. “They said even if they were, it’s perfectly permissible. They also claimed, somehow, that it enhances competition.”

In the end, says Stephenson, he wants LOOK and AMC to have all the movies and let the customers decide where they want to see go. Do they want a chain experience, says Stephenson, or do they want to go to a place where they can wash down their sushi and steak with a Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade?

“Ours is a completely difference experience than going to NorthPark and buying popcorn,” says Stephenson. “Consumers have real choice. You can choose what kind of experience you want. We have as much market share from Highland Park as we do from around here [in far North Dallas]. Why should you tell someone they can’t have wine and a steak when they see a movie if that’s the movie they want to see?”


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Rusty Gordon
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From: Fairview, Tennessee USA
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 - posted 10-18-2014 02:24 PM      Profile for Rusty Gordon   Author's Homepage   Email Rusty Gordon   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I can't imagine why, now that film print production costs are gone, that in this situation these theatres shouldn't be able to play day and date with one another. If the article is correct and both knew of the other circuit's plan to open in this market, neither expected to operate for long without the other. No real purpose is served by splitting up the product other than to entitle one company to profit at the expense of the other.

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Brad Miller
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 - posted 10-18-2014 03:03 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
AMC has a history of this sort of behavior. They're big and they like to throw their weight around to squash anyone they can.

The studios REALLY need to dump this whole nonsense with sharing product. Let anyone have the movie who is willing to play it for the minimum booking term and let the PUBLIC decide which theater it wants to patronize. Doing so would just increase opening weekend's grosses anyway since there would be more available seats, and that seems a high priority for the studios.

I'll bet AMC is pissed that they didn't get Interstellar since LOOK is playing it in 70mm. [Razz]

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Terry Lynn-Stevens
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 - posted 10-18-2014 03:44 PM      Profile for Terry Lynn-Stevens   Email Terry Lynn-Stevens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A blackberry bourbon lemonade at the AMC sounds delicious.

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Brad Miller
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 - posted 10-18-2014 04:13 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Wow Terry. Turn your brain on.

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Andrew Thomas
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 - posted 10-18-2014 04:29 PM      Profile for Andrew Thomas   Email Andrew Thomas   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This is one of the reasons that I like being in small towns. Pretty much no chance of an AMC or similar coming to town.

I try and spread the word that AMC in particular really likes to use anti-competitive practices to win. I know Cinemark sometimes goes for clearance, but I know they aren't nearly as aggressive about it.

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Terry Lynn-Stevens
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 - posted 10-18-2014 04:54 PM      Profile for Terry Lynn-Stevens   Email Terry Lynn-Stevens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
At the end of day Andrew, competition is a good thing for the customer, perhaps not for LOOK cinemas who had the market to themselves, but they simply need to respond to a competitor entering a marketplace. I'm sure their 70MM engagement was brought upon by the fact that they knew AMC was coming.

Ideally LOOK needs to split the product with AMC (AMC gets some movies, while LOOK gets some movies) or otherwise the distributor will gain all the power.

I think AMC is going to win this battle.

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Allan Barnes
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From: GRAND BEND, ONTARIO, CANADA
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 - posted 10-18-2014 05:08 PM      Profile for Allan Barnes   Author's Homepage   Email Allan Barnes   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Time to call the Government Lawyers... ANTI-TRUST

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Andrew Thomas
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 - posted 10-18-2014 05:14 PM      Profile for Andrew Thomas   Email Andrew Thomas   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Except that this isn't competition. AMC is circuit dealing. They are gobbling up the A product from the studios while leaving the B-product for the other theater.

Competition would be to allow each theater to play the product and let consumers choose which experience they prefer.

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Terry Lynn-Stevens
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 - posted 10-18-2014 05:21 PM      Profile for Terry Lynn-Stevens   Email Terry Lynn-Stevens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Andrew Thomas
Competition would be to allow each theater to play the product and let consumers choose which experience they prefer.
Competition would be if each company could bid on the product and then somebody gets it. It would also help keep ticket prices nice and stable. Allowing each theater to have the same product would do nothing, the distributor wins. The best case is for both LOOK and AMC to split the available product.

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Brad Miller
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 - posted 10-18-2014 05:24 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Wow, two instances back to back where I have to say this. Terry, turn your brain on. [Roll Eyes]

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Terry Lynn-Stevens
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 - posted 10-18-2014 05:31 PM      Profile for Terry Lynn-Stevens   Email Terry Lynn-Stevens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Brad, it makes no sense to have the same product at both theaters. Please explain how it could possibly benefit anyone other than the distributors?

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Andrew Thomas
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 - posted 10-18-2014 05:39 PM      Profile for Andrew Thomas   Email Andrew Thomas   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It is bad an anti-competitive because it means the different theaters don't need to incentivize consumers choosing their location over the competitor. Just get big enough and you can force the studios to supply you with product and not the other.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

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 - posted 10-18-2014 06:01 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If you offer a superior experience and the customer base recognizes one theatre as superior to the other...they will gain market share over the other. With a clearance practice, the customer (patron) no longer benefits from competition and is forced to see the product at a quality level that the biggest chain sets as "good enough."

I have seen this sort of thing before...with an AMC theatre where there was another location within a mile or two...the little theatre did sue and, in the end, won and can play day-and-date with AMC.

If LOOK's lawyer is good...odds are, they will prevail. The thing is...you do have to be as good or better than the monopolistic chain, AMC in this case.

I can actually see this from many vantage points. You have AMC that will put forth its resources to locate a theatre in an ideal, yet under-served location (or one they reasonably believe will be under-served based on expansion predictions). Then a small chain or mom-pop just has to open a theatre next to the AMC and put their resources into that one location. Odds are, the local guy can better serve the needs of his location than a chain viewing it all on a spreadsheet.

This sort of thing is done in fast food and even hotels...there is a reason they tend to "clump." If McDonalds thinks a spot is a good location...a smaller fast-food chain will plan on moving near by without having to expend near the resources.

In movie theatres, however, unlike fast-food, they are competing over the exact same product and all they have to differentiate themselves is the quality of service and perceived "experience."

However, antitrust laws came about not to help the big guy but to protect the little guy. The consumer is almost always better off with more real competition then if a monopoly gets to dictate terms/quality (anyone really like their "cable bill?" When a large entity throws down the gauntlet and effectively says pick us or them...they are acting in a monopolistic way because the little guy couldn't effectively say the same thing...the studio has to think about the ramifications of the big guy not getting his way in more than just one location.

When you have nothing BUT little guys competing...if the same situation were to happen (Mom and Pop open a theatre and another mom and pop open one down the street)...both theatres run the risk of diluting their own market share to point neither business is profitable or stable if they both get the same product.

It really isn't cut-and-dried.

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Joe Elliott
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 - posted 10-18-2014 09:19 PM      Profile for Joe Elliott   Email Joe Elliott   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Terry Lynn-Stevens
Brad, it makes no sense to have the same product at both theaters. Please explain how it could possibly benefit anyone other than the distributors?
Because it is not the every day variety of movies that the two would be fighting over. Yes, having those split would help consumers, giving them more variety of choices. It is the big blockbusters that should be at both that will be used as fighting pieces, when really they should show at both. I agree that back with film, they had to do it that way, because there was a HUGE investment on the part of the film company in the prints themselves. Now there is not. There is no reason to limit theaters. And larger chains will take advantage of their buying power. Especially corporations, where there is no personal responsibility to be a human being. In a fight like this not only does the smaller theater get hurt, so does the consumer. Instead if it were fair, both sides would have to try to provide the better service, atmosphere, sound, etc. Still the larger chain has the advantage, but at least it is better for the consumer.

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