Community Battles Giant Exhib Over Small Theater
Jan 20-late addition Jan 20 that potential buyer of this cinema withdrew offer; see first link below
January 9, 2017—Community activists in an upscale New York City suburb are crying foul on Regal Cinema, alleging that the nation's largest theater circuit is choking off a rival small three-screen theater. The Larchmont (N.Y.) Playhouse movie theater is facing extinction because of Regal's control of its real estate, says a story in The Daily Voice.
Regal briefly owned the Playhouse theater and attached restrictions when it sold the property in 2015. The 15-year term of limitations including prohibiting first-run movies, prohiting certain physical renovations and nixing sale of alcoholic beverages, says a Daily Voice article by Jeanne Muchnick.
The article says local activists are pressing Regal to lift the restrictions so the theater can be refurbished under new ownership. The Playhouse opened in 1933 and shuttered in September 2016. Regal has an 18-screen megaplex theater New Roc City is just two miles away in New Rochelle. To give you a lay-of-the-land, Larchmont is in wealthy southern Westchester County that is just 30-40 minutes by commutor train from Manhattan and is dotted with historic theaters built decades earlier.
The Larchmont Playhouse matter is local, though nationally big circuits pressing for booking contracts calling for exclusive zones are being attacked as anticompetitive. Dine-in luxury circuit iPic is suing competing exhibitors claiming violations of fair competition regulations (see link below).
Film distributors are in the middle as small theaters battle large circuits, though the trend is for distributors to reject exclusivity in contracts.
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