DOJ tells AMC to divest two movie theaters before acquiring Starplex Cinemas

The Justice Department has reached a settlement of its antitrust charges against AMC Entertainment Holdings and SMH Theatres that requires AMC to divest movie theaters in Connecticut and New Jersey, before proceeding with its $172 million acquisition of Starplex Cinemas.

Connecticut joined the Justice Department’s antitrust division in a civil antitrust lawsuit filed on Dec. 15 to block the proposed merger, but at the same time, they filed the proposed settlement to address the competitive concerns in the complaint.

AMC competes with Starplex Cinemas to attract moviegoers in the areas around Berlin, Connecticut, and East Windsor, New Jersey. They go head-to-head over ticket prices and offer premium viewer options such as larger screens, more sophisticated sound systems, picture clarity, first-rate seating and high quality food and drink.

In its Dec. 15 announcement, the Justice Department said that because the two chains are each other’s most significant competitors in the Berlin and East Windsor areas, their proposed tie-up would likely reduce competition over price and quality.

The proposed settlement would address that issue by requiring that Starplex Town Center Plaza 10 in East Windsor and the Starplex Berlin 12 in Berlin be sold to a buyer or buyers approved by the DOJ.


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