[UPDATE 5/23: Cinetopia is being taken over by AMC Theatres. Full report here.]
ORIGINAL POST: As first reported by Anthony Macuk and Allan Brettman at The Columbian, all three Portland-area locations of the high-end Cinetopia movie theater chain—which had two outposts in Vancouver, WA, and one in Beaverton—have abruptly closed.
On Monday, signs in the windows at the Vancouver Mall location said food and beverage service was temporarily suspended due to “restructuring of Cinetopia.” Box office employees at the mall described the changes as a restructuring and declined to comment further. A representative who answered the phone at Cinetopia’s corporate office in Beaverton, Ore., described the operation as “a deep cleaning,” and declined to elaborate. (Via.)
A fourth Cinetopia location, in Kansas City, Kansas, has also shuttered.
Over the past year, Cinetopia has been involved in a legal battle with national theater chain AMC, alleging the larger chain violated antitrust laws by blocking or hindering Cinetopia's ability to play major films.
That issue—giant corporate theater chains allegedly throwing their weight around with film distributors to prevent smaller theaters' access to new releases—has come up repeatedly in recent years.
In 2015, the Wrap reported that Regal, Cinemark, and AMC were "being investigated on antitrust grounds by several states attorney general as well as the U.S. Justice Department" for "potentially anticompetitive conduct." The following year, Marc Cuban's Landmark Theaters fought Regal, alleging similar violations of antitrust laws. And just last year, AMC took a hit when a federal judge in Texas denied "AMC Entertainment’s attempt to toss out Viva Cinemas antitrust suit over the now shuttered theater’s Spanish-language showings of first-run studio pictures."
The Columbian notes the Cinetopia closures come at a key point in the chain's legal dealings with AMC, and also notes Cinetopia has accused AMC of engaging in "bad-faith negotiations" regarding a potential sale of the Kansas City location to AMC—even as, the lawsuit alleges, the national chain continued to make booking films difficult for Cinetopia.
We'll have more info on these sudden closures once we know it. Meanwhile, on Southeast Powell, Studio One Theaters—a significantly smaller multiplex that shares several key elements with Cinetopia's locations, including being owned by Cinetopia CEO and founder Rudyard Coltman—remains open.