AMC – Loews Merger to Close Soon
Loews Cineplex theatres will close at the end of the business day on Thurs. 1/26 and on Friday 1/27 will re-open as AMC Theatres. This will effectively relegate the Loews name, probably the oldest name in exibition, to the trash heap.
Marcus Loew, a furrier, opened a nickelodeon on the second floor of a commercial building in Cincinnati in 1905, and the rest, as they say, is history. He went on to establish Loew’s, Inc., building some of the most opulent and ornate vaudville-movie theatres ever seen. “We sell tickets to THEATRES, not movies”, he was quoted as saying. Loew also formed the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios through a series of aquisitions and mergers, to supply product to his theatre empire.
Loew died in 1927, but the company went on. Eventually the federal government forced the seperation of the MGM Studios from the Loew’s theatre operations.
The theatre operations were later purchased by the Tisch family, who diversified The Loew’s Corporation into hotels, real estate, insurance and tobacco. The number of grand old theatres was greatly reduced to exploit the land beneath them while a few new, sterile suburban theatres were opened in shopping centers.
In the 1980s, the Loews Corporation sold off the theatre operations to a partnership of Jerry Perenchio and TV producer Norman Lear. They, in turn, sold the theares to Tri-Star Pictures in less than 2 years.
Tri-Star Pictures was merged into Columbia Pictures, then a subsidiary of Coca-Cola. Coke then sold their film interests to Sony Corp. of America, and the theatres, for a brief time, were known as Sony Theatres. The company expanded with several circuit aquisitions and new-builds.
In 1997 Sony spun off the theatres as an independent company, re-christening the new operation as Loews Theatres.
An ill-advised and disasterous merger of Loews Theatres and the debt-ridden Cineplex Odeon Corporation soon followed and resulted in the combined entity filing for bankruptcy in 2001. It was revived by a debt-for-equity transaction by a partnership including Onex Corp.
Sold again to another partnership, this one including the Carlyle Group, it is now being merged into AMC Entertainment and the Loews name will be removed from all the theatres.