The Plitt Amusement Company has filed a $ 5 million suit against Norman Lear’s Act III Communications, charging that Act III illegally pressured its financer in the purchase of a large number of theaters in the Pacific Northwest and, in turn, created a monopoly.

The suit, filed in California Central District Court, states that in 1990 — after Plitt Amusement had gotten approved financing from GE Capital Corporate Finance Group to buy several theaters from Cineplex Odeon — Act III officials “induced and persuaded” GE to forgo the loan.

“Basically Act III prevented us from buying the theaters and then created their own monopoly,” said Maxwell Blecher, with Blecher & Collins, who represents Plitt.

According to the suit, GE Capital was financing substantial theater acquisitions and expansions for Act III and was threatened with economic reprisal if it were to finance Plitt’s proposed acquisition of the theaters.

The theaters are located in Washington, Oregon, Utah and Minnesota.

When GE then refused to go forward with its financing, Act III bought the theaters and now has a monopoly of firstrun feature films in each of the specified areas, the suit said.

“For the last 12 years, the federal government’s antitrust division has basically been closed,” Blecher noted.

A representative for Act III could not be reached for comment.

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