AMC to buy 4 area theaters from Kerasotes

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AMC to buy 4 area theaters from Kerasotes

AMC Entertainment has agreed to buy 93 theaters, including those in Danville, Mattoon, Charleston and Paris, from Kerasotes Showplace Theatres, the companies jointly announced Tuesday.

The proposed purchase includes the Village Mall Cinema in Danville, the ShowPlace 10 in Mattoon, the Will Rogers Theatre in Charleston and the Paris Theatre in Paris.

The deal would give AMC nearly all the assets of Kerasotes, which has 973 screens in mid-sized, suburban and metropolitan markets, primarily in the Midwest.

However, Tony and Dean Kerasotes would retain their two new ICON concept theaters in Minneapolis and Chicago, as well as a Showplace theater in Secaucus, N.J.

AMC Entertainment, by contrast, has most of its theaters in large metropolitan areas, including Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis. The Kansas City, Mo.-based company has 304 theaters with 4,574 screens in five countries.

AMC Entertainment also happens to have the highest average number of screens per theater – about 15, compared with the North American industry average of seven.

Sun Dee Larson, a spokeswoman for AMC Entertainment, declined comment on the purchase.

In Danville, Village Mall manager Cindy Compton was as surprised as anyone at the upcoming sale of the cinemas on the mall's southwest side.

"I heard it on the radio on my way into work this morning," Compton said Wednesday. "I haven't received any official notice. I'm sure the lawyers are working out the details."

Compton couldn't say when the Kerasotes lease was due to renew, but said she doesn't expect any major changes at the theater.

"When ownership changes hands, new owners generally work within the existing lease," she said.

Kerasotes Showplace Theatres is owned by the Kerasotes family and Providence Equity Partners. Tony Kerasotes, the company's chief executive officer, credited Providence with helping Kerasotes – over the last six years – become the sixth-largest movie exhibition company in North America.

The company traces its roots back to 1909 when Gus Kerasotes went into the theater business. The firm is now operated by the third generation of that family.

The Kerasotes family had a long history of owning theaters in Champaign-Urbana, but that ended when the George Kerasotes Corp., which did business as GKC Theatres, sold its theaters, including the Beverly Cinemas in Champaign, to Carmike Cinemas in 2005.

AMC Entertainment, which has 16,800 full- and part-time employees, had $2.3 billion in revenues for the fiscal year that ended April 2, 2009. The privately held company acquired General Cinema in 2002 and the Loews chain in 2006, according to its Web site.

The proposed acquisition of Kerasotes, expected to close later this year, is subject to antitrust review by the Justice Department.

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