A federal judge on Friday approved a motion to the U.S. government to automatically revoke the Paramount Decrees, a series of antitrust laws from the late 1940s and early 1950s that terminated Hollywood ‘s monopoly over film theater, distribution and exhibition.
A.S. In Manhattan, District Judge Analisa Torres said the Justice Department “offered a fair and compelling justification” why ending the consent decrees would “serve the public interest in open and unfettered competition.”
Old Film theater laws are gone
The Justice Department decided to terminate the decrees last November, enacted after the Supreme Court in 1948 said Hollywood ‘s biggest studios had unlawfully monopolized the film production and film theater industries.
New regulations make it unreasonably unconstitutional for studios to restrict how many theaters could be screening movies in different regional areas.
They also outlawed “block booking” which required theaters to screen poor films as well as blockbusters as part of a bundle, and “circuit trading,” the mass licensing of movies to theaters under popular ownership rather than theater-by-theatre.
The Department of Justice said the decrees were no longer required. Because multiplexes, radio and cable TV, DVDs and the internet changed the way people view movies. And when studios no longer dominated control of movie theatre.
Three chains-AMC Video, Cinemark and Regal-monitor over half of the 41,000 movie screens in the United States.
To mitigate business turmoil, Torres’ order provides a two-year “sunset” clause to end the block booking and circuit selling bans.
Critics also said stopping the decrees could endanger smaller film theater owners’ existence.
The Regional Film Theater Owners’ Association, whose members have around 35,000 cameras, backed retaining the block booking moratorium.
It said in a statement that Torres’ decision “only moves the compliance process to normal, existing networks.”
Another party, the Independent Cinema Alliance. They said the ending could reduce the profitability of its members and the quality of films. Commentation was not immediately available.
In recent months, the Justice Department has also worked to terminate scores of consent decrees it finds expired.
U.S. v. Paramount Pictures and U.S. v. Loew et al, U.S. New York Supreme Court & Southern Section.