Denver Film Society, with three other independent film exhibitors, has filed a lawsuit against the Mark Cuban-owned theater chain, claiming the theater giant uses its muscle to block smaller theaters from showing the same specialty films.

The suit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, says that Landmark Theatres, the largest theater chain in the U.S. dedicated to independent and foreign films, is in violation of federal antitrust law.

The Denver Film Society, Cinema Detroit and Washington D.C.-based West End Cinema, and the Avalon Theatre, allege that Landmark uses its market dominance to demand exclusive rights to screen specialty films, resulting in no local competition for those films despite consumer demand.

“We did not reach this decision lightly,” said Andrew Rodgers, executive director of the Denver Film Society. “After years of trying to work within the system and talking with partners and peers about how we can overcome the unfair competition we face from Landmark, we have come to the painful conclusion that this is a nationwide problem that affects the entire independent film community."

It is unclear which law firm is representing Landmark Theatres. The DBJ could not reach the attorneys Wednesday who represented the chain in its lawsuit against Regal.

The Denver Film Society was founded in 1978 as a nonprofit organization that provides specialty film programming to the Denver community through year-round screenings, film festivals and other special events. DFS operates a single, three-screen theater, the Sie FilmCenter, and produces the annual Denver Film Festival.

Read more about the fight between community theaters and larger cinemas at the Denver Business Journal.