A federal judge has given the green light to Justice Department to terminate the 71-year-old consent decrees that have restricted major studio control over the exhibition process.
The lifting of the decrees will clear the way for studios to once again take significant ownership of theater chains, now in dire straits because of the pandemic. But more importantly for the industry, the elimination of the decrees means that studios and exhibitors will be allowed to engage in a host of business practices that have been prohibited since the late 1940s.
“Because changes in antitrust law and administration have diminished the importance of the Decrees’ restrictions, while still providing protections that will keep the probability of future violations low, the Court finds that termination of the Decrees is in the public interest,” wrote U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres in a ruling issued on Friday.
Under the plan to terminate the decrees, restrictions on block booking and circuit dealing will remain in place over a two-year sunset period.
More to come.
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