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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Sony Pulls "Call Me By Your Name" from Portland Indy, Hands to Regal

   
Author Topic: Sony Pulls "Call Me By Your Name" from Portland Indy, Hands to Regal
Rusty Gordon
Film Handler

Posts: 32
From: Fairview, Tennessee USA
Registered: Feb 2004


 - posted 02-22-2018 12:23 PM      Profile for Rusty Gordon   Author's Homepage   Email Rusty Gordon   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Portland's Living Room Theaters sues movie giant Regal when film goes dark
By Aimee Green agreen@oregonian.com The Oregonian/OregonLive
Updated Feb 21, 6:13 PM; Posted Feb 21, 3:38 PM
Portland's tiny Living Room Theaters filed a $50,000 lawsuit against Regal Entertainment Group on Tuesday, claiming the movie giant wielded its mighty power to stop the local moviehouse from showing a Sundance Film Festival hit.

The lawsuit claims Living Room Theaters and Regal's Fox Tower Stadium 10 received rights to play the widely acclaimed drama "Call Me By Your Name," a coming-of-age story between a 17-year-old boy and a 24-year-old man set in the Italian countryside. The suit claims that when Regal saw it was losing business to its much smaller competitor, it strong-armed movie distributor Sony Pictures into yanking Living Room Theaters' rights to play the film.

A spokesman for Regal, with its headquarters in Tennessee, couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

The company has more than 550 theaters and 7,300 screens, according to its website. Its Fox Tower cinemas in the heart of downtown Portland has 10 screens and close to 1,000 seats, according to the suit.

Living Room Theaters, an independent company, has six screens with about 50 seats each, the suit states.

The suit states that when Living Room Theaters showed “Call Me By Your Name” from Jan. 12 to 19, customers flocked there in greater numbers than to Fox Tower, according to a sales-tracking company. The suit states that on Jan. 19 Living Room Theaters received a voicemail from a Sony Pictures sales manager, stating in part:

“I need to have 'Call Me By Your Name' taken off screen at the Living Room in Portland,” according to the suit. “You do not play with Regal there … it has been many months since you have shared a title. They are very upset, and I do not look good at this time.”

The suit also states Living Room Theaters believes Regal made a threat or implied threat to Sony Pictures that it was no longer going to deal with Sony Pictures unless the movie distribution company revoked Living Room Theaters’ permission to play the film.

The suit states Living Room Theaters had pre-sold tickets for the next three nights, and although it tried to contact customers immediately, some still showed up only to find out they couldn’t watch the film. The suit says the company had to offer customers complimentary tickets in an effort to quell their unhappiness.

In place of “Call Me By Your Name,” Living Room Theaters showed “The Last Year,” a documentary about President Obama’s final year in office. But the suit says because Living Room Theaters wasn’t able to market the movie, it performed poorly and the company lost tens of thousands of dollars in business.

Portland attorney Courtney Peck is representing Living Room Theaters. The suit was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Read the suit here.

-- Aimee Green

agreen@oregonian.com

o_aimee

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

Posts: 2319
From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-22-2018 01:03 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just for accuracy sake, Call Me By Your Name is handled by Sony Pictures Classics, which, though part of the Sony empire, is a separately operated company.

And though I wish Living Room luck, the distributors of art films pull dates all of the time. It will be interesting to see if Living Room has the evidence and if the evidence proves something illegal.

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Carsten Kurz
Film God

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From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
Registered: Aug 2009


 - posted 02-22-2018 03:35 PM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What do these contracts say in the US? It happens here occasionally, but then only well before the movie plays. Once it is running, it would mean a breach of contract, and I can hardly find a reason that would not be prosecuted. Competition is no justification for breach of contract. What if the cinema said after screening the movie for weeks 'We don't pay out your share, we don't care about our contract'.

The trouble here may be that Living Room sued Regal, not Sony classic. How will they actually prove their claim against Regal? I clearly understand they were too anxious to sue Sony, but Sony is the party they had a contract with about this.

- Carsten

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

Posts: 2319
From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-22-2018 04:20 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Contracts are covered by NDA, but basically they say the Studio can do whatever it wants. As far as I know, no one signs a contract on a show by show basis. SPC, at least with me, frequently only sends confirmation sheets after the film has played.
Living Room got their first week in, so they weren't required to hold it and SPC wasn't required to extend it. It's as simple as not issuing a key for the next week.
I've never had a distributor pull a movie that we wanted to keep, but had them pull them from us and put it in a multiplex that would gross 1/2 of what we would. (and then tell me it was a mistake).
Like I said, I wish Living Room well. After 33 years of being treated like crap by many of the distributors, it be nice to see them forced to behave decently to the exhibitors who showed their films that weren't big hits.

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6410
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-22-2018 04:24 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There is a guy at SPC who is a big, fat liar.

We were booked to play a movie at Mercyhurst and that guy called me up, the day before our playdate, and claimed that they had no 35 mm prints even when I already had a print of that title in my possession.

There were a couple of other small, college theaters that I had gotten to know because we circuited prints between us all of the time. A colleague from one of those theaters sent his print to me...at SPC's request, mind you!

I had JUST picked up the print from the college's mail room when the receptionist from my front office tracked me down and told me that there was an urgent phone call from Sony.

That sales rep tried to tell me that there were no prints and that we would have to make due with a DVD even though we only had one day's notice.

I said to him, "Well, that's funny because I happen to have print number 4 of that film sitting, right here, on the floor by my feet."

The guy stammered and stuttered for a minute then I asked him, "Where do you want me to send this print after we're through playing it?"

This is also the very same guy who booked us a print, when we had already paid for and received the print then Swank called us up and said that they had exclusive rights to book that print to college theaters.

I told the guy from Swank that I had no idea that was the case because Sony should have known that he had the booking rights.

I would look at everything that Sony Pictures Classics does with a very jaundiced eye.

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Carsten Kurz
Film God

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From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
Registered: Aug 2009


 - posted 02-22-2018 04:37 PM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Martin McCaffery
Living Room got their first week in, so they weren't required to hold it and SPC wasn't required to extend it.
May be a different booking scheme. We usually book for a fixed time, and that is confirmed on paper before we play. If all Sony did was to not extend the initial booking, then there would probably be no legal means against Sony. That way, Living Room could have opted out of that movie as well if e.g. it had underperformed during the first week. Fair trade.

- Carsten

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

Posts: 2319
From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-22-2018 05:22 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Randy Stankey
I would look at everything that Sony Pictures Classics does with a very jaundiced eye.
In "defense" of SPC, and many other distributors, quite frequently the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing, and no one knows what the feet are stepping in.

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Mark Ogden
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 865
From: Little Falls, N.J.
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-22-2018 06:28 PM      Profile for Mark Ogden   Email Mark Ogden   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
One of Harvey Weinstein's very early asshole moves was something like this, over the Miramax release of sex, lies and videotape. The picture was on a platform release and had broken house records in NY/LA, and a lot of small market arthouse operators had dollar signs in their eyes waiting to get their hands on it, some with confirmed dates. Then Loews expressed in interest in booking it, and all of a sudden all the independents got left in the lurch without so much as a mumbled apology. We were booked by Frontier Amusements at the time and the poor gal who ran it just told us we had to suck it up, lest we incur the wrath of Harvey (which even thirty years ago was apparently quite a thing).

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

Posts: 2319
From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-22-2018 09:20 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Remember that well. It was also in the days before we could look at the grosses from other theatres. Now that I can see how much better we do on art films then they do, I can't understand why they book them there (ok I can: 1) it's easier to book a whole chain; 2) A good week in Montgomery is like a bad opening show in NYC; 3) Montgomery doesn't matter).

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