How the ''Breaking Bad'' star hopes to set a precedent with indie films


Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston has six movies scheduled for release in 2012, and some of them — like Red Tails (out now) — will play in his very own theater. Along with being an Emmy-winning actor, Cranston is co-owner of an art-house theater in Palm Desert, Calif., called the Cinemas Palme d’Or. Owning the theater was a boyhood dream: ”I thought, ‘When I grow up, I’m going to own a movie theater so I can see movies for free.”’

If only it were that simple. This year, Cranston hopes to finally move forward with a lawsuit surrounding his theater, which was reopened by the California Court of Appeals in August 2011. Since 2006, the Palme has been fighting the Century Theatres chain (now Cinemark), accusing the corporation of deliberately preventing the art house from playing first-run movies. A victory for Cranston could help independent theaters nationwide.

The actor and his co-owners claim that when bidding for films, Century, which owns Palm Desert’s stadium-seated multiplex the River, would ”threaten [studios] with not picking up a title for their theaters” if they sold films to Cinemas Palme d’Or. (The case is currently in the discovery phase.) A rep for Cinemark says there is ”no evidence” to support Cranston’s claims, but the actor is bullish. ”We have extreme financial damages from this,” says the star, who hopes the case will go to a jury trial. ”We [could] set a precedent with it that will benefit anyone, not just movie-theater owners but really owners of small businesses everywhere.”

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Breaking Bad

Walter White descends into the criminal underworld.

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