Cineplex sale set

Alliance buys 75% of Canadian distrib arm

TORONTO — Cineplex Odeon Canada and Alliance Entertainment announced Thursday that Cineplex has sold 75% of its Canadian film distribution arm, Cineplex Odeon Films, to Alliance Communications.

The sale of the distrib, to be renamed Odeon Films Inc., was required by the Canadian government before it would allow Cineplex Odeon to merge with New York-based Loews Theaters, a unit of Sony Pictures. Cineplex Odeon Canada is Loews Cineplex’s Canadian subsidiary. The purchase, said Alliance executive VP George Burger, is “in the C$5 million ($3.45 million) range.”

Burger said the deal would be advantageous for Alliance because its Canadian distribution arm — Alliance Releasing, which has about 12% of the $1.03 billion-a-year Canadian film distribution market — was looking to increase its infrastructure.

Alliance tends to deal with bigger-name films, and adding Cineplex, with more of an arthouse niche, gives the company additional reach, but Odeon Films will operate separately from Alliance Releasing.

250 titles

The deal also increases the size of Alliance’s film library by about 250 titles.

Twenty-five percent of Cineplex Odeon films will remain in the trust of Cineplex Odeon Canada for the benefit of three Canadian film education institutions, which can cash out their stakes at a later date. Cineplex Odeon Canada also announced the appointment of its new board of directors. The board’s four independents, expected to oversee Cineplex’s strategic direction, are Canadian business and government heavy-hitters Robert Rabinovitch and Rudy Bratty, esteemed Canadian filmmaker Norman Jewison and business executive Carole Salomon. The four Loews Cineplex board members are CEO Allan Karp, who will chair the board; Lawrence Ruisi, president and CEO; Travis Reid, president of U.S. operations; and John Walker, senior veep and CFO.

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