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Posts from December 2015

Thor Equities Completes Residential Foundation Pour At Kirby Collection

Posted on December 21, 2015 in

HOUSTON — Thor Equities has completed the residential mat foundation pour at Kirby Collection, a new mixed-use development at 3200 Kirby Drive in Houston. The foundation is seven feet thick and consists of 6,000 cubic yards of concrete with 500 tons of rebar.

The continuous pour took eight hours to complete and involved 150 dedicated trucks, six pump trucks and more than 200 workers. The team involved in the mat pour included general contractor E.E. Reed Construction, Keystone Structural Concrete, Campbell Concrete & Materials, ECS Texas, HiTech Electric, Schnabel Foundation Company and developer Thor Equities.

Located in the Upper Kirby District near Houston’s River Oaks neighborhood, the 1 million-square-foot project will feature a 25-story, 385,000-square-foot residential tower with 199 apartments including seven two-story townhomes, and seven two-story loft spaces with private yards.

The residences will overlook a deck with more than an acre of landscaped amenities including a pool with cabanas, fire pits and a bar area. The penthouse level will feature a Skyview Suite available to all residents, offering a chef’s kitchen and views of the Houston skyline. Kirby Collection’s 13-story, 210,000-square-foot Class A office building is located near the Galleria/Uptown District, Greenway Plaza and the Texas Medical Center.

In addition, two levels of retail space totaling 65,000 square feet will be home to restaurants, nightlife and shopping. The development is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2017. Richard Keating Architecture is the design architect, Dianna Wong Architecture + Design is the interior designer and Houston-based Kirksey is the architect of record. Walter P Moore is the structural engineer.

IPic Sues Regal and AMC Over Movie Screening Rights

Posted on December 02, 2015 in

Erich Schwartzel
Updated Nov. 17, 2015 6:37 p.m. ET

A small movie-theater chain filed a lawsuit Tuesday raising fresh allegations about the business practices of the nation’s largest theater companies and the tactics they use to dictate where certain movies are played.

Filed Tuesday in state court in Houston, the suit from Florida-based iPic Entertainment accuses Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. of using their market dominance to drive smaller rivals out of business, in some cases coordinating their efforts and presenting ultimatums to real-estate developers to do so. Regal is the nation’s largest movie exhibitor by number of screens; AMC is No. 2.

The lawsuit is the latest example of a rift in exhibition over “clearance,” an industry practice in which a theater can request exclusive rights to a movie—often one that is expected to be a hit—in a given market, preventing nearby competitors from playing it. The suit requests a temporary injunction that would prevent Regal and AMC from refusing to play any movie that also plays in an iPic.

An AMC spokesman said, “Allocated film zones are a longstanding, well-established industry practice. Allocated film zones have demonstrated benefit to all stakeholders—moviegoers, studios and exhibitors.” Regal didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Clearance affects a small number of the nation’s 40,000 screens, and occurs in markets where large exhibitors are pitted against one another, rather than against smaller rivals. But it is quickly becoming one of the most controversial issues in how Hollywood distributes its movies, as several smaller operators have spoken out over the past year against the practice. They said it is depriving them of revenue and even caused some theaters to go out of business.

“This is an industrywide problem that iPic has been forced to fight in court,” said Hamid Hashemi, president and chief executive of the company.

IPic’s suit is the fourth filed against one or both of the two-largest circuits and could give the smaller company access to documents that would shed light on how larger rivals pressure studios to grant the requests for exclusive showings.

Government examinations into the practice have heated up. The U.S. Justice Department has been interviewing exhibitors about the practice for more than a year, according to people familiar with the matter. Several state attorneys general have begun their own inquiries, with some flying to Los Angeles to collect evidence and interview studio executives, one of these people said.

Attorneys general in 11 states and jurisdictions—Ohio, Texas, California, New York, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Kansas, Indiana, Florida, Washington and the District of Columbia—are looking into the matter, and representatives for their offices either declined to comment or didn’t respond to requests for comment. Earlier this year, Regal, AMC and the third-largest circuit, Cinemark Holdings Inc., notified investors that they have received civil investigative demands—subpoena-like requests for information—from the Justice Department seeking information.

IPic operates 12 theaters in eight states that offer dine-in eating and luxury recliners. The allegations in the lawsuit involve two iPic locations in Texas that iPic says were separately targeted by Regal and AMC.

In one case, iPic alleges that the chains worked together to keep studios from booking movies in certain theaters. In July 2014, the suit claims that Regal called “every major studio” to tell them it would refuse to play titles if they were also given to an iPic under construction in the Houston area.

On the same day, according to iPic’s suit, AMC made a similar demand regarding an iPic location planned for the Dallas region, sending an email to studios that said its theater “has more than enough capacity to fully serve the moviegoing demand” in the market and that the company “requests that each film be licensed pursuant to clearances.” IPic says in the suit that it had not yet signed its lease for the Dallas location when AMC sent that email.

“AMC and Regal are conspiring in this anticompetitive boycott,” the suit claims. The Dallas site is still under construction, but the Houston location opened last week and has been unable to book several forthcoming titles like “Concussion” and “The Revenant.” according to the suit.

The suit claims the two big exhibitors have also reached out to developers “even before ground is broken” on a new real-estate development to say that they will seek to block movies from coming to a theater if an iPic is chosen for the site.

It is a move that iPic claims can have a chilling effect on real-estate development, especially in cases when a theater anchors a large shopping center. Regal interfered with negotiations iPic was having with a mall owner in Newport, Calif., the suit claims.