Movie Tav­ern theater chain sold

Sale in­cludes three in tri-county re­gion

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Donna Rovins [email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @Mer­cBiz on Twit­ter

MIL­WAU­KEE, WIS. >> The Movie Tav­ern theater chain has been sold to Mil­wau­kee-based Mar­cus The­atres. The ac­qui­si­tion by Mar­cus The­atres was com­pleted Feb. 1.

The sale of Movie Tav­ern’s 22 lo­ca­tions in nine states in­cludes lo­ca­tions in West White­land, Up­per Prov­i­dence and Spring­field Twp., as well as a fourth Penn­syl­va­nia lo­ca­tion in Trexler­town. The chain is known for its suc­cess­ful in-theater din­ing con­cept and lux­ury seat­ing.

Mar­cus The­atres had an­nounced in Novem­ber 2018, that it planned to ac­quire the Movie Tav­ern chain from owner VSS South­ern The­atres LLC, which ac­quired the chain in 2013. The pur­chase price, ac­cord­ing to Mar­cus The­atres, was val­ued at ap­prox­i­mately $139 mil­lion, which con­sisted of $30 mil­lion in cash and the is­suance of 2,450,000 shares of The Mar­cus Corp. com­mon stock.

Rolando B. Ro­driguez, chair­man, pres­i­dent and CEO of Mar­cus The­atres, said his com­pany had con­sid­ered pur­chas­ing the Movie Tav­ern chain when it was for sale in 2013, but opted out.

“This is the right time for us to ac­quire Movie Tav­ern,” Ro­driguez said in an in­ter­view. “We had dipped our toes into the wa­ter be­fore, and since then we have con­tin­ued to build on our ex­pe­ri­ence. Movie Tav­ern pro­vides the right time and op­por­tu­nity to take our knowl­edge and ex­per­tise into this ven­ture.”

With an 83-year his­tory, the con­cept of in-theater din­ing is not new to Mar­cus The­atres, which con­sid­ers guest ser­vice and food and bev­er­age of­fer­ings — in­clud­ing lobby and in-theater din­ing op­tions — to be among its strengths, ac­cord­ing to Ro­driguez.

He added that the com­pany will build on those strengths, “to fur­ther en­hance the Movie Tav­ern ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Ro­driguez spent the first cou­ple of days fol­low­ing the ac­qui­si­tion clos­ing visiting Movie Tav­ern prop­er­ties — in­clud­ing the Penn­syl­va­nia prop­er­ties. He added that it was the sec­ond time he had seen the prop­er­ties.

“We looked at them prior to clos­ing the deal. I was equally, if not more ex­cited this time, now that they are part of the com­pany,” he said. “We spent the en­tire day on Mon­day (Feb. 4) in Penn­syl­va­nia. We spent qual­ity time with the team and looked at the mar­ket­place and left un­der­stand­ing the mar­ket a lit­tle bet­ter.”

The Penn­syl­va­nia prop­er­ties, he said, are “good pro­duc­ing prop­er­ties.”

“We be­lieve they are in the up­per third of per­for­mance for the Movie Tav­ern cir­cuit,” he added.

The Up­per Prov­i­dence Movie Tav­ern, lo­cated at Prov­i­dence Town Cen­ter — and the first Penn­syl­va­nia Movie Tav­ern to open — is cur­rently un­der­go­ing some ren­o­va­tions, ac­cord­ing to Ro­driguez. The theater is be­ing out­fit­ted with DreamLounger re­clin­ers, “one of the most sought after ameni­ties,” he added. Work be­gan about a month ago, and should be com­pleted within about 60 days.

The the­aters are be­ing re­branded as “Movie Tav­ern by Mar­cus,” which com­bines the es­tab­lished Movie Tav­ern name with the Mar­cus The­atres iden­tity.

“They have a strong brand name. There are ameni­ties we will be adding, that are sought after by con­sumers. We be­lieve there are el­e­ments to in­tro­duce in the Movie Tav­ern lounges to make them even more ap­peal­ing,” he said.

Among the pro­grams that were rolled out im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the ac­qui­si­tion are $5 Movie Tues­days, which in­cludes a free small pop­corn all day on Tues­day; and $6 Young at Heart Se­nior Mati­nees ev­ery Fri­day for se­niors 60 years and up, for any movie be­fore 5:30 p.m.

“We’re work­ing to in­tro­duce our Mag­i­cal Movie Re­wards loy­alty pro­gram — but that will take a lit­tle bit of time. We have 3.1 mil­lion mem­bers in that pro­gram,” Ro­driguez added. “We’re also look­ing at some selected lo­ca­tions of­fer­ing a stu­dent dis­count on Thurs­days.”

Mar­cus The­atres is the fourth largest theater cir­cuit in the coun­try — be­hind AMC, Re­gal and Cine­mark, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany. The ac­qui­si­tion of Movie Tav­ern in­creases the foot­print of Mar­cus The­atres by 23 per­cent. The com­pany now owns or op­er­ates a to­tal of 1,097 screens at 90 lo­ca­tions in 17 states.

“We try not to fo­cus on the num­bers. One of the things that has been suc­cess­ful for us is to be dis­ci­plined in our ac­qui­si­tions. Our goal is to make sure we are be­ing re­spon­si­ble for share­hold­ers,” Ro­driguez added. “We are su­per ex­cited to be part of this mar­ket­place. We have been in this busi­ness for 83 years. We’re in it for the long run.”

Mar­cus The­atres is a di­vi­sion of Mar­cus Corp., founded in 1935 with the open­ing of a sin­gle movie the­atre in Ripon, Wisc. To­day, the com­pany op­er­ates two di­vi­sions: Mar­cus The­atres and Mar­cus Ho­tels and Re­sorts.

Be­fore the ad­di­tion of the Movie Tav­ern chain, Mar­cus The­atres owned or man­aged theater lo­ca­tions in Wisconsin, Illi­nois, Min­nesota, Ohio, North Dakota, Iowa and Ne­braska.

In ad­di­tion to the Penn­syl­va­nia prop­er­ties, the ac­qui­si­tion of Movie Tav­ern ex­tends Mar­cus The­atres brand be­yond the Mid­west to in­clude lo­ca­tions in Arkansas, Colorado, Ge­or­gia, Ken­tucky, Louisiana, New York, Texas and Vir­ginia.

The Up­per Prov­i­dence Movie Tav­ern opened in July 2011; the Spring­field Twp. lo­ca­tion opened in Septem­ber 2015; while the Ex­ton lo­ca­tion opened in Novem­ber

2015. The Trexler­town Movie Tav­ern opened in Au­gust, 2018.

Movie Tav­ern was founded in

2001, and in 2013 was ac­quired by New Or­leans-based South­ern The­atres, a port­fo­lio com­pany of Vero­nis Suh­ler Steven­son (VSS), a pri­vate eq­uity firm.

MEDIANEWS GROUP FILE PHOTO

The Movie Tav­ern chain of the­aters has been sold. This file photo shows a view of the fa­cade of the Movie Tav­ern in the Prov­i­dence Town Cen­ter, shortly after its July 2011 open­ing.

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