Rave buying 35 theaters from National Amusements

posted by CSWalczak on December 9, 2009 at 3:45 pm

DALLAS, TX – Thirty-five theaters currently operated by Sumner Redstone’s heavily indebted National Amusements will be acquired by Rave Motion Pictures, Inc. While the theaters involved in the deal have not yet been announced, they are believed to be all located out of National’s main markets of New York and New England.

Media mogul Sumner Redstone’s family movie theater chain National Amusements Inc. has reached an agreement to sell 35 theaters to Dallas-based exhibitor Rave Motion Pictures, people close to the matter confirmed.

Details of the deal, which is believed to include Los Angeles' Bridge: Cinema de Lux multiplex, are still being worked out, but the transaction is expected to be finalized in the next two weeks.

Redstone would probably use the proceeds from the sale to retire a portion of National’s debt, which was an onerous $1.46 billion until he announced plans in mid-October to sell nearly $1 billion in stock in the two media companies he controls, Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp.

Read more in the L.A. Times.

Comments (22)

danpetitpas on December 9, 2009 at 4:00 pm

The news media doesn’t report it most of the time, but the $1.5 billion debt came from Sumner having to pay an extremely expensive divorce settlement, not borrowing the money on behalf of the theater chain. National Amusements is extremely healthy, but losing some of its crown jewels like the Bridge isn’t going to help it long-term.

Sumner has also stated he doesn’t believe in the theater business anymore and had threatened to sell off all but NA 15 theaters, but there were no takers until now.

John Fink
John Fink on December 10, 2009 at 3:43 pm

I figured it was going to be Rave or Kerastoes, they’re the only chains that are hungry to expand, Regal also has too much debt, AMC is under new management and the focus for them seems to be improving (by not allowing outside snacks into) their existing complexes (some of those Loews sites need major improvement, they knew how to run them into the ground – strange since Onex kept the Canadian sites and they’re in good shape).

Both Bridge sites are/were joint ventures, and seeing how the LA bridge is an out of market theater for them already, I wonder why it’s been reported they aren’t keeping it. I’ve never been but I have been to the Philly Bridge and dug it, I wonder if that’s also in the sale. I calculated it once and suspect the theaters in MA, CT, RI, NY, NJ and one additional site – will stay under National (I’m hoping Edgewater does anyway, Rave has awful popcorn!). Now the one additional site could be the complex in Yonkers they have under development, Brockton, MA (which may be off now), or either Bridge locations (Philly maybe since it’s close enough to be in the same region as Showcase at the Ritz Center).

As for Rave, they operate the Beverly Center location, on the DL since it doesn’t fit the Rave model (new construction, stadium seating, digital projection, ect). I wonder if they’re also buying one of Redstone’s brands, or will use the Rave name as a parent company and call these complexes something else.

moviebuff82 on December 13, 2009 at 12:53 am

too bad rave didn’t take over the now gone movie theaters in Sayreville and Newark.

John Fink
John Fink on December 14, 2009 at 5:11 am

Here’s something rather telling about what Rave is buying and what’s staying with National: the Star Pass program has been cancilled at all but 4 theaters, two in New York that always had it (Island 16 and City Center) and two in New Jersey (Town Center Plaza and Edgewater). This means Ohio is all going to Rave, as are Hazlet (as reported on the site), and Showcase at Ritz Center, which should be interesting for people already angry that theater isn’t really much of an art house anymore.

Very glad National is keeping Edgewater which seems to do solid business, has great and diverse food offerings, lots of leg room, big screens, and a good crowd (never any problems here, and there are lots of people that come). It should be interesting to see what happens when Rave takes over, I’ve been to their PA location in Center Valley, in a great upscale shopping “life style center” – the theaters were nice, comfortable, clean – my only complaint is the lack of a full food court like National and the popcorn was pretty bad (it tasted very much like Regal Cinemas popcorn, which is downright awful).

ilovefilm on December 14, 2009 at 8:57 am

Here is a list of the National Amusements locations that Rave is picking up. All of the National Amusements brands are included. Bridge, Cinema de Lux, Showcase and Multiplex. I wonder if Rave will keep the names of identify them as Raves?

The Bridge 18 – Los Angeles, CA
Showcase Buckland Hills 16 – Manchester, CT
Cinema De Lux Connecticut Post 14 – Milford, CT
Showcase North Haven 12 – North Haven, CT
Enfield 12 – Enfield, CT
Showcase Berlin 12 – Kensington, CT
Showcase Southington 12 – Southington, CT
Showcase Davenport 53 18 – Davenport, IA
Cinema De Lux Stonybrook 20 + IMAX – Louisville, KY
Cinema De Lux Preston Crossings 16 – Okolona, KY
Cinema De Lux Florence 14 – Florence, KY
Showcase West Springfield 15 – West Springfield, MA
Showcase Eastfield Mall 16 – Springfield, MA
Showcase Ann Arbor 20 – Ypsilanti, MI
Showcase Flint West 14 – Flint, MI
Showcase at the Ritz Center 16 – Voorhees, NJ
Multiplex Hazlett 12 – Hazlett, NJ
Cinema De Lux Franklin Park 16 – Toledo, OH
Cinema De Lux The Greene 14 – Beavercreek, OH
Showcase Milford 16 – Milford, OH
Cinema De Lux Springdale 18 – Springdale, OH
Showcase Dayton South 16 – West Carrollton, OH
Cinema De Lux Maumee 18 – Maumee, OH
Showcase Huber Heights 16 – Huber Heights, OH
Showcase Western Hills 14 – Cincinnati, OH
Showcase Levis Commons 12 – Perrysburg, OH
Showcase Kings Island 12 – Mason, OH
Showcase Fallen Timbers 14 – Maumee, OH
Showcase Cincinnati Mills 10 – Cincinnati, OH
The Bridge 6 – Philadelphia, PA
Showcase Pittsburgh North 11 – Pittsburgh, PA
Showcase Pittsburgh West 12 – Pittsburgh, PA
Cinema De Lux Fairfax Corner 14 – Fairfax, VA
Multiplex Centreville 12 – Centreville, VA
Multiplex Reston 13 – Reston, VA

John Fink
John Fink on December 14, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Wow, I’m shocked to see CT and Springfield, MA go, I thought for sure they would have stayed National. Especially Springfield which has a long legacy with the company (the 15 screens contain the original remains of what was a “Movie Theater Campus” along Route 5).

A lot of excellent theaters in the pick-up, including Showcase West Springfield, Buckland Hills, and The Bridge locations. All Rave has to do is not screw them up – it’s sad to see the finest of the big chains fall, if anything Rave’s operations team should learn from National, and keep the diverse concessions including the amazing popcorn.

shorty45 on December 14, 2009 at 7:48 pm

rumor has it!!!! all will go smoothly
employees will keep working
paychecks will keep coming
tickets will be sold
movies will be watched
and than SLOWLY BUT SURLY the changes will start coming as soon as they get a feel for the operations of new acquisitions than they will start changing things and people
this will not be an overnight change but in name and slight changes in operational behavior it will be sad to see but sometime change might be good

ThomasRossi007 on December 15, 2009 at 1:21 am

Many thanks for that list, ilovefilm.

Any idea who is taking their lease option for the Yonkers, NY Ridge Hill site that they withdrew from??? Same scenario applies to the Bronx, Ny Kingsbridge Armory retail project which was voted down today, but will later be reserrected at some point.

FYI: The Hawthorne, NY location may eventually close along with Cross County, yonkers, because the landlord is pushing them out after converting the center into an upscale retail destination.

Thanks again for that list!!!

jedimaster420 on December 15, 2009 at 3:17 am

They’re selling all their CT Theatres. That sucks, I thought they were going to hold on to their CT theatres. I hope Rave is a good chain, I like that they push all Digital Projection format from what I heard, but in my area the Showcase Cinemas are the best run theaters, and have always gone to them. Even though I live close to AMC Loews Plainville 20 and Hoyts Simsbury, If I’m driving to the movie, I always drive the extra to Buckland Hills. I’m really going to miss them. I guess I’ll get the National Amusements experience when I’m still drunk after a New England Patriots game at Patriot Place.

e1337n00b on December 15, 2009 at 3:27 am

Tell me about it, I have chain loyalty here too. I’m really going to miss them. Buckland Hills was by far their best in the greater Hartford area. Like you Lord, I live close to Plainville and Simsbury, (closer to Simsbury) and I do the same as you, DRIVE THE EXTRA DISTANCE TO BUCKLAND. I used to work at Plainville and when my free movies were up, I’d go to Buckland with another co-worker cause It didn’t feel like work when we went to a movie. I guess I’ll do the same as you, get the NA experience when I go to Patriot games, I’ll stay for a movie while I sober up.

e1337n00b on December 15, 2009 at 3:30 am

I hope Rave doesn’t screw up an operation that has always been good. Showcase has a history in CT. I remember when it was only Showcase and Hoyts theatres in CT.

e1337n00b on December 15, 2009 at 4:13 am

That’s comforting to know. I like their emphasis on technology. I am a digital projection supporter, and I may be sold now on them. The thing is I’ve been loyal to Showcase for most of my moviegoing life. There has always been something special about going to a Showcase Cinema, but at least it seems it’s not a Regal or AMC. They seem to have a vision, and I’m all for them.

e1337n00b on December 15, 2009 at 4:16 am

I hope they don’t get rid of Red Sox HD Gamenight. Those are always fun events.

ilovefilm on December 15, 2009 at 6:27 am

Rave really does build a beautiful movie complex and puts the focus on the presentation and the customer. I have had the chance to visit several times when I lived in Columbus and now since moving to Dallas.

If they treat these complexes like they do their current ones, I think you will enjoy the experience.

shorty45 on December 17, 2009 at 7:17 pm

The word is they will probable keep red soxs game as well as adding football as well as opera they seem to very interested in alt content

shorty45 on December 17, 2009 at 7:21 pm

as far as dig goes it will be a tough nut considering that they must have gotten a huge loan for the buy and each dig machine runs about 180,000 so as i have sugested early it will be a slow change

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on December 17, 2009 at 8:41 pm

What I’ve noticed is that National Amusements is keeping 2 theatres in New Jersey, the Edgewater Multiplex Cinemas, and the Town Center Multiplex Cinemas.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on December 18, 2009 at 12:31 am

I have visited a Rave Theatre in Florida and it was better run than most National Amusement Theatres I have been to in NY.

John Fink
John Fink on December 21, 2009 at 5:54 pm

The press release is out today on Rave’s website, essentially they’ve formed a new entity: Rave Cinemas, LLC, and it appears the National Amusements sites will be “Rave Cinemas”. Rave Cinemas LLC is acquiring the much of the assets of Rave Reviews Cinemas, which was the legal name I assume for Rave Motion Pictures. They will be managing other sites not picked up from Rave Reviews, like they do with the Rave Digital Media partnership and Beverly Center. It also appears they are only buying “selected” real estate from National which I’m not sure if this means Redstone will continue to be a landlord at some sites or they consider the sites National does own (mall locations such as Enfield, CT).

Interesting connection: Charles Moss is involved with the transaction and is going to chairman of Rave Cinemas. I wonder if that means anything for Bow Tie Cinemas, the chain he runs with his son? It also speculates Rave LLC will be the fifth largest exhibitor in America, after this acquisition will more than double their size. Here’s the press release: View link

As for “screwing up” National Amusements, I’m glad Edgewater is remaining a National Amusements site (although a little surprised they’re keeping Town Center, a location that originally opened as a Regal Cinemas but was unloaded when they went bankrupt). All Rave has to do is keep running the theaters well, change nothing, not even the popcorn, even learn and implement what National does right, including high quality, diverse concession offerings. It’s ironic, AMC who used to let you bring in your own food stopped allowing it, right after they closed many of the premium snack bars that General Cinema and Loews used to run in their theaters. My guess is National saw what was working with Famous Players in Canada and jumped on it. It looks like the only brand acquired by Rave might have been The Bridge – they are all on rave’s site now.

shorty45 on March 8, 2010 at 5:46 pm

So the changes have started
1,reduction in staff,
2,staff that stays, pay reduced almost in half
as well as line staff IE ushers cashiers etc

3,customer service level down as well as sales

so it apears for now transition is not so smooth
we will keep watching

blahh on October 1, 2010 at 2:46 am

As an ex-Rave employee… Rave sucks. I used to work for National Amusements before Rave bought us out. We thought it was going to be fun, Rave seemed like a really cool company.. but nope! Took away our managers retirement and benefits, then fired them.. Hired other people to replace them at minimum wage. They constantly treat their employees like crap and remind us that they can fire us at any time.
There’s no benefits, no overtime, no holiday pay, even if you work over 40 hours week. And if you quit your job, they write it down in your file that they fired you so you can’t use them as a reference.
Oh, and because of Rave, we failed our health inspection for the first time since our movie theater opened. Everyone should boycott rave. They seem nice on the uotside, but they don’t care about their eomplyees, or their customers.

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