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‘Chinese Theatre’ owner agrees to acquisition by WestStar Holdings

November 25, 1997 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Cinemerica-Mann Theatres, owner of the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, agreed to be purchased for $165 million by the investor group WestStar Holdings.

The sale of the nation’s 16th largest chain, with 374 screens in 62 locations, is the latest in a trend of consolidation of major movie exhibitors.

The sale announced Monday also means that Mann, a joint venture owned by Paramount and Warner Bros. studios, will begin to expand.

``We’ll look at any acquisition that’s screaming to be done,″ said WestStar chief Jeffrey Lewine. He said the company probably will focus on acquisitions in Mann’s core markets of California and Colorado.

The company also will follow competitor AMC in building ``megaplex″ multiscreen theaters.

``The company’s customer base and locations are strong and we think it can be run more efficiently,″ he said. ``AMC has reinvented the theater business with the megaplexes and I hope they do dynamite business because the better they do, the better we all do.″

Analyst Gary Farber of NatWest Securities said the deal made sense for Paramount and Warner since Mann isn’t large enough to compete with the larger chains.

``Economies of scale are what’s driving these deals,″ he said.

The Mann transaction follows September’s agreement by Cineplex Odeon and Sony Corp. to merge their 2,600 screens, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts’ buyout of the Act III chain, and Hicks Muse Tate & Furst’s purchase of the United Artists chain.