Large chain cinema groups including AMC and Regal are being investigated by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission(SEC) for squelching competition by preventing competitors from playing popular movies.

Certain SEC filings disclose the Department of Justice is looking into whether those companies used joint ventures and exclusivity agreements with movie studios in violation of antitrust laws.

Operators of small independent cinemas claim that exclusivity agreements, called “clearances,” limit their business because they allow big chains to prevent competitors from playing popular new movies. Filmgoers who want more  options close to home frequent indie theaters. The practice of the chains limit what those theaters can show now.

The largest movie chains—AMC, Regal Entertainment Group and Cinemark Holdings—control over 40% of the screens in the United States.

Stay tuned.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers