This one entertains me becaues it faintly evokes the studio system of the 1930's and the decades of antitrust action by the FTC, with United States v. Paramount Pictures, 334 U.S. 131 (1948) stealing a good deal of the spotlight. It's not quite as big as Paramount, but it's what we have. In Flagship Theaters of Palm Desert LLC v. Century Theaters, Inc. (August 31, 2011), the Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division One) considered an appeal of a summary judgment ruling that ended Flagship's antitrust action. The allegations were summarized by the Court:
Flagship filed this antitrust action against Century and two film distributors, alleging that Century has used the power deriving from both the size of its theater circuit and its many theaters in noncompetitive markets to undermine the competitive process through which theaters bid for and obtain licenses to exhibit first-run films. According to Flagship, under previous ownership the River and the Palme obtained roughly equal numbers of first-run films, but under Century the River now obtains licenses for far more first-run films than the Palme, the few that are left to the Palme are commercially inferior, and the imbalance is not based on the relative merits of the Palme's and the River's bids. On the contrary, according to Flagship, superior bids by the Palme are often rejected in favor of inferior bids by the River as a result of Century's abuse of the power of its circuit
Slip op., at 2. I'm not going to cover the Court's interesting attempt to assess the current state of unlawful circuit dealing under the Sherman Act and the Cartwright Act. But if you practice or dabble in antitrust law, this is like a brief history lesson centered around the movie distribution world. I will note, however, that the Court wasn't thrilled with all of the sealed documents the Court received and later concluded were not appropriately classified as confidential.