Movie Tavern theater chain sold
Sale includes three in tri-county region
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.
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.