A federal judge on Friday granted the U.S. government's motion to immediately end the Paramount Decrees, a series of antitrust laws from the late 1940s and early 1950s that ended Hollywood's monopoly on the production, distribution, and exhibition of films .
US District Judge Analisa Torres in Manhattan said the Justice Department had "provided a reasonable and convincing explanation" as to why ending the consent ordinances "would serve the public interest in free and unrestricted competition."
Last November, the Justice Department decided to end the decrees issued after the Supreme Court in 1948. Hollywood's largest studios had illegally monopolized the film distribution and theater industries.
New rules made it illegal for studios to inappropriately limit the number of cinemas in which films can be shown in certain geographic areas.
They also banned "block booking," which forced theaters to show bad films as well as blockbusters as part of a package, and "circuit dealing," the bulk licensing of films to jointly owned theaters rather than theater by theater.
The Justice Department said the decrees were no longer needed after multiplexes, radio and cable television, DVDs and the Internet changed the way people watch movies and because studios no longer dominated cinema ownership.
Three chains – AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, and Regal – control roughly half of the 41,000 US movie screens.
Torres' order includes a two-year "sunset" rule to end block booking and circuit trading bans to minimize market disruptions.
Critics said ending the decrees could jeopardize the survival of smaller theater owners.
The National Association of Theater Owners, whose members have around 35,000 screens, supported compliance with the block booking ban.
In a statement, Torres' decision "simply moves the enforcement mechanism into regular, existing channels".
Another group, the Independent Cinema Alliance, said the termination could reduce the competitiveness and film diversity of its members. It wasn't immediately available for comment.
The Justice Department has shut down dozen of informed consent forms that it believes are out of date in the past few months.
The cases are US v Paramount Pictures and US v Loew & # 39; s et al., US District Court and Southern District of New York.