By the summer movie season, the theaters at Washington Crown Center may no longer be going Hollywood.
Regal Entertainment Group, based in Knoxville, Tenn., has entered into an agreement to acquire the Hollywood Theaters chain. That includes the 14-screen Hollywood Theaters at the mall in North Franklin Township.
Russ Nunley, vice president of marketing and communications for Regal, said his company has “a lot of financial and legal hurdles to clear, but our goal” is to complete the acquisition before the tradition May 1 start of the summer movie season. He said he anticipates no hitches.
Nunley also said “we have no plans to change the facility” at Crown Center, which opened in 2000. “We’re not coming in to rock the boat. This should be a fairly seamless transition.” The name will remain the same.
All 14 screens there made the transition to digital projection in recent months. Five have 3-D capabilities.
Regal is paying about $238 million for Hollywood Theaters, which is based in Portland, Ore., but has a large concentration in Texas. The price includes $191 million in cash and about $47 million in assumed lease obligations and certain working capital.
The North Franklin site will give Regal Entertainment a second presence in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The other is Regal Moraine Pointe Plaza 10 – with 10 screens – in Butler County.
Regal is prevalent in Eastern Pennsylvania, though, with theaters in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Lancaster, York and the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre area.
In May, the closest Regal multiplex to Washington County will be the Hollywood 12 in Morgantown, W.Va.
“Hollywood Theaters is a very valuable asset-based group,” Nunley said. “We’ve been looking to expand our footprint.”
It is a Godzilla-sized footprint. Regal is purchasing 43 theaters – most of them multiplexes – from Hollywood, totaling 513 screens. That will give the Tennessee firm 581 theaters and 7,375 screens.
“This will be the first time a theater exhibitor has operated more than 7,000 screens,” Nunley said.
Regal Entertainment is in 38 states and Washington, D.C. The pending purchase of Hollywood Theaters will add five states, American Samoa, Guam and the Cayman Islands to that list.
The consolidation of companies owning and operating movie theaters has been common in recent years. Nunley said Regal has been a consolidator “for more than a decade” and has acquired or merged with more than 40 firms.
“A profitable movie season, such as the one in 2012,” Nunley said, “leads to more activity in the acquisition and merger market.”
Including a move into Washington County.