As our client, iPic Entertainment, was working to develop two premium boutique movie theaters, one in Houston and one in Frisco, Texas, the nation’s two largest movie theater circuits, Regal Entertainment and AMC Entertainment, simultaneously targeted and made boycott threats against iPic to the major movie studios, attempting to keep iPic’s theaters from licensing first-run hit movies. Yetter Coleman was hired to stop these anticompetitive restraints of trade, filing the client’s case under the Texas Antitrust Act in state court, and alleging that Regal and AMC conspired to harm iPic.
On May 20, 2016, Yetter Coleman defeated a summary judgment attempt by AMC to dismiss iPic’s antitrust claims. Instead, State District Judge Wesley Ward found that there was sufficient evidence of an antitrust conspiracy between AMC and Regal and will allow iPic’s conspiracy claims to go to trial. The ruling was made after a lengthy hearing, in which iPic presented evidence that Regal and AMC had a common motive to conspire and have acted in lockstep against iPic in ways that are against their economic self-interest, unless they are working together to kill new competition. iPic presented evidence, based on internal AMC documents, that AMC and Regal radically departed from the movie industry’s previous practices, including by making boycott demands, called “clearance” in the industry, against iPic within hours of each other to the same studios, a year or more before the targeted iPic theaters were even built.
The court’s ruling comes several months after Yetter Coleman won an injunction against Regal allowing iPic to exhibit first-run movies at its Houston theater. In January 2016, following a two-day evidentiary hearing, the court ruled that there was a “substantial likelihood” that iPic will prove at trial that the theaters in issue are not in “substantial competition”; that Regal’s actions were “unreasonable” restraints of trade with “no procompetitive justification”; and that iPic’s injury was “imminent,” and had “no adequate remedy at law.” The court’s injunction is in place through an October trial date.