Reading riding arthouse roll

NEW YORK — Reading Entertainment Inc. has cash and current assets of $110 million that it plans to spend on building and acquiring theaters during the next year, Reading chairman James J. Cotter said Thursday in a statement.

The company, which operates the Angelika Film Center in New York, recently closed the sale of its interest in Stater Bros. Holdings Inc. back to Stater Bros. for $75 million in cash. The company has no outstanding bank debt or debt securities.

Reading plans to open an Angelika in Houston by the end of the year in the Cordish Co.’s Bayou Place development. On Thursday, the company announced that it has signed a letter of intent to construct a seven-auditorium Angelika complex in Pasadena. It will be part of the South Lake Avenue project being developed by Forest City Development.

Cotter said in a statement that Reading expects to sign contracts for the development of arthouse multiplexes in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., over the next several months. The company is also reviewing potential sites in Boston, Charleston, Chicago, Miami, Seattle, St. Louis and the greater Los Angeles and San Francisco areas.

He told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting Wednesday in New York that Reading plans to have art complexes representing 80 or more screens either open for business, under construction or under contract, by the end of the 1998 first quarter.

“With our Angelika Film Centers, we intend to raise the bar for the entire industry,” said Reading president Robert F. Smerling. “We believe that art patrons have for too long been required to settle for second best in terms of theaters and film availability. The time has become to build specifically for this market niche.”

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