Antitrust Lawyer Blog Commentary on Current Developments

DOJ Requires Divestitures of Theaters to Preserve Competition in Connecticut and New Jersey

On December 15, 2015, the Department of Justice announced that it reached a settlement with AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and SMH Theatres Inc. (Starplex Cinemas) that requires AMC to divest two movie theaters in Connecticut and New Jersey to resolve the DOJ’s antitrust concerns.

The DOJ found that AMC’s and Starplex Cinemas’ theaters in the Berlin, Connecticut, and East Windsor, New Jersey, areas compete to attract moviegoers on ticket prices as well as through the quality of the viewing experience, such as by offering moviegoers the most sophisticated sound systems, largest screens, best picture clarity, premium seating, and high quality food and drink.  Because AMC and Starplex Cinemas are each other’s most significant competitor in the Berlin and East Windsor areas, the DOJ alleged that the proposed acquisition would likely reduce price competition as well as the overall quality of the movie viewing experience. 

Under the terms of the proposed consent decree, the Starplex Town Center Plaza 10 in East Windsor, New Jersey, and the Starplex Berlin 12 in Berlin, Connecticut, must be divested to a buyer or buyers approved by the United States.  The DOJ worked with the Connecticut Attorney General on the investigation and Connecticut is a party to the consent agreement.