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UA Theaters pares losses significantly

NEW YORK — Rising box office attendance helped United Artists Theater Circuit Inc. slash its loss in the first quarter by 82% to $2.3 million on 13.6% higher revenue of $174.2 million.

UA’s cash flow — earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — rose 93.4% to $26.5 million, helped by a 23% reduction in general and administrative expenses to $6.4 million.

“We are obviously very pleased with our performance to begin 1997,” UA’s acting chief operating officer, Kurt Hall, said in a statement.

Heavy debt load

UA has been struggling under a heavy debt load and an older circuit at a time when many of its rivals are spending big to expand. The exhibitor is renovating its circuit and in the first four months of 1997 opened six new theaters with 61 screens and sold or closed six with 21 screens, it said Wednesday.

New theaters to play key role

Hall credited part of the turnaround with the opening of new theaters as well as to the reduction in corporate expenses and the “strength of the underlying market.”

He said the recent cost-cutting and a reorganization of the management structure, as well as the circuit renovation, are all helping to “create a circuit with national reach but a more regional focus and a capital structure which provides for both reinvestments in important markets and continued debt reduction.”

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