Vancouver’s Rio Theatre claims Cineplex is shutting them out of the market for top films, such as Oscar winner Parasite.
The theatre recently started a petition to “demand Cineplex stop their bullying tactics by dictating the market and blocking independent theatres from booking films with distributors.”
According to the petition, the Rio typically has to wait three to six months after a film has been released before being permitted by Cineplex to book the film.
“Lack of enforcement of the regulations in our industry has allowed this monopoly to continue even though it violates antitrust / competition laws,” reads the petition.
“These kind of bullying tactics from Cineplex are a major reason why we have lost so many of our independent theatres across Canada and similar issues with other large corporations have also caused closures of indie theatres in the USA.”
The Rio adds, “The need for regulation has become urgent” after Cineplex announced its recent $2.8 billion deal with UK-based Cineworld, which will “make it the largest cinema circuity in North America by number of screens.”
The petition also calls on the Canadian Competition Bureau to enforce the Competition Act to prevent the monopoly from continuing.
Cineplex spokesperson Sarah Van Lange said that Cineplex does not own the rights to the movies and that Cineplex licenses the films from Canadian distributors to play in their theatres.
“It is up to film distributors to decide where they play their films,” Van Lange said.
The Rio is not the only theatre to complain, as independent cinemas coast-to-coast are reporting the same inability to show new movies.
Toronto’s Paradise Theatre says Cineplex’s “anti-competitive practices” are blocking independent theatres from showcasing certain films.
“We are an independent small business and we need to ride those coattails when they’re popular,” Jessica Smith, Paradise Theatre’s Director of Programming, told Daily Hive. “We still can’t show Parasite, which has been out for four months. That money is dried up.”
At the time of publication, the Rio’s petition reached 9,490 of its 10,000-signature goal.
With files from Clarrie Feinstein