Southern Theaters Buys Movie Tavern, Making

New Orleans-based cinema chain now operates 433 screens

Bumping it into the nation’s top ten theater circuits, Southern Theaters LLC has acquired dine-in theater chain Movie Tavern, bringing the former’s location count to 36, with screens totaling 433 in 13 states.

Based in New Orleans, Southern Theaters now ranks as the eighth-largest chain in the U.S., surpassing National Amusements, which operates 423 screens at 32 sites.

At a time when theater companies grapple to grow admissions, the acquisition — which results in a company with a combined annual revenue of roughly $200 million — bolsters Southern Theaters’ presence in the dine-in theater sector: All of the 16 acquired Movie Tavern locations are wine-and-dine. Southern Theaters currently has just one dine-in theater located in New Orleans.

The purchased theaters will continue to operate under the Movie Tavern brand.

“This acquisition will be a fantastic catalyst for growth for our company,” said Southern CEO George Solomon, “and we look forward to working with (Movie Tavern CEO) John Hersker and the entire Movie Tavern team to deliver on this strategy.”

Hersker will continue to manage business operations for the Dallas-based company.

With the acquisition, Southern Theaters broadens its footprint, which is mostly in the South, to markets like Dallas-Forth Worth, Houston and Philadelphia. Each chain plans to open two new theaters by 2014.

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