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No. 46: Regal Cinemas

Knoxville, Tenn.

Revenue: $1.13 billion

Loss: $366.5 million

Regal Cinemas got caught up in the go-go expansion craze among exhibitors that since has turned into a go-bankrupt trend after overbuilding produced crushing competition and burdensome debt.

Regal execs led by topper Mike Campbell are meeting regularly with reps of entertainment entrepreneur Philip Anschutz to work out a pre-packaged bankruptcy reorganization. That would make an even dozen of major circuits to file for Chapter 11 reorganization and rep the third exhib takeover for billionaire Anschutz after moves on United Artists Theaters and Edwards Theaters.

“Things are progressing,” says a source close to the talks.

Current Regal co-owners Kravis Kohlberg & Roberts and Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst may have to eat most of their $1 billion investment in Regal. The firms took the circuit private in 1998 and hoped to increase the exhib’s clout with distributors by dramatically increasing its size.

The move was a crashing failure, but it hasn’t stopped speculation that just such a strategy is behind Anschutz’s recent acquisitions. For the time being, there’s a question whether the secretive financier even plans to consolidate Regal and its roughly 4,000 movie screens with his other cinema operations.

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