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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinemas in the News   » Mann Theatres Selling Screens

   
Author Topic: Mann Theatres Selling Screens
Richard A Stegman Jr
Member

Posts: 267
From: Calimesa,CA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted August 10, 2009 08:59 PM      Profile for Richard A Stegman Jr   Email Richard A Stegman Jr         Edit/Delete Post 
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3ice2557e822899daa3ded85a95a6c1446

Grauman's on the block as value peaks
Warner Bros. and Viacom selling several L.A. theaters
By Carl DiOrio

Aug 10, 2009, 11:00 PM ET

Amid seismic shifts in local exhibition, Warner Bros. and Viacom are stepping up efforts to unload L.A.-area movie theaters piecemeal, including the iconic Grauman's Chinese in Hollywood. Such an exit would conclude an initially profitable but more recently tedious tenure of ownership for the studio companies.

Execs at Cinemerica -- the co-venture of Warners and Paramount-parent Viacom that operates Mann Theatres -- believe the timing is right to make a concerted run at selling one or more of its Mann venues. Two are considered especially attractive: the fabled Grauman's on Hollywood Boulevard and the Criterion Theatre on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade.

"Grauman's and the Criterion are kind of the diamonds in the circuit," Cinemerica topper Millard Ochs said.

Mann let leases expire in Westwood Village's now-closed National and Festival theaters and will vacate the classic Bruin and Village spaces in March unless late-breaking negotiations result in an extension to those leases.

Ochs, who also is president of Warner Bros. International Cinemas, said a collapse of the Westwood exhibition market is tied to several factors.

The refurbishment of AMC and Landmark multiplexes just south of the neighborhood and a couple of new Pacific openings to the east have drawn moviegoers away from traditional Westwood haunts. As a mere leasee in its Westwood properties, Mann has been unable to push through its own conversions to stadium seating and other modern amenities. Declining traffic and limited parking in an aging retail district, combined with inherently bad economics of single-screen venues, exacerbated difficulties.

"You can't make a profit on a single-screen theater," a top industryite mused. "It's just not possible."

Indeed, Westwood's independently operated Crest Theater -- another struggling monoscreen -- is also up for sale.

Mann's Beverly Center multiplex in West Hollywood has been closed for months for renovations and soon will reopen under new management.

The chain also operates a half-dozen suburban theaters: a 16-plex in Van Nuys; nine-screeners in suburban Thousand Oaks and Granada Hills; an eight-plex in Westlake Village; and 10-screen and four-screen venues in Glendale. At most, such properties might now fetch a sale price equal to five or six times theater cash flow.

Grauman's is a special case. Combined with a six-plex in the adjacent -- and finally flourishing -- Hollywood & Highland complex, it could fetch as much as the rest of the circuit combined.

The recent opening of a Madame Tussauds wax museum next door also will benefit Grauman's, perhaps the only theater Cinemerica operates that has appreciated in recent years. Cinemerica owns the buildings but not the land at Grauman's and the Mann Westlake and leases the rest of its theaters.

Opened by Sid Grauman in 1927, the storied Chinese -- whose famous footprints out front increase, uh, foot traffic at the site -- was sold in 1973 to the late Ted Mann, originally an exhibitor in Minnesota. For years, the site operated as Mann's Chinese but returned to its Grauman's moniker in 2001.

Ochs has lots of experience operating and then off-loading theaters in challenging markets around the world. That's in line with Warners' philosophy of expanding exhibition into developing markets before selling out and moving on.

He believes Cinemerica will eventually find appropriate buyers for many of the Mann theaters now that the decision has been made to sell the properties piecemeal.

"We had just started that last August, and then in September all hell broke loose in the commercial market," Ochs recalled with a rueful chuckle. "So we're just trying to get our momentum."

This is not the first time Warners and Viacom have tried to offload the once-lucrative circuit with a decades-old history under the studio companies. Then Paramount parent Gulf & Western brought in Warners as a partner to operate the regional Mann Theatres circuit in the mid-'80s after federal prohibitions against studios' owning theaters were lifted.

"Warners came in a month after our acquisition from Ted Mann," former Paramount topper Frank Mancuso recalled Monday.

Seeking to exit those operations earlier this decade, the partners met with little success in selling the entire circuit due to woes with properties in Westwood.

Prospective strategic buyers, or those operating other movie theaters, were put off by an insistence on selling all the Mann properties as a block, and financially motivated bidders were discouraged by the circuit's notoriously costly lease arrangements.

A year ago, Cinemerica decided to let interested parties bid on individual theaters. But within a month, the collapse of money markets made the renewed sales efforts futile.

For the Westwood theaters, fall will bring yet another indignity as time -- and local exhibition -- marches onward. Regal Cinemas in October expects to open a 14-plex at Anschutz Entertainment's sprawling L.A. Live downtown retail complex, and a big push is expected for glitzy movie premieres of the sort once common in Westwood.

Hollywood will have moved its red carpet from one end of Wilshire Boulevard to the other.

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Jeff Arellano
Senior Member

Posts: 685
From: Monterey Park, CA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted August 10, 2009 09:27 PM      Profile for Jeff Arellano   Email Jeff Arellano         Edit/Delete Post 
I think this is the end of Mann officially.

I dont know what theatre will take the Hollywood 6 + Chinese. The 6 plex does very marginal business and is poorly placed in that center.

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Christopher Crouch
Member

Posts: 292
From: Anaheim, CA
Registered: Feb 2006


 - posted August 11, 2009 02:41 AM      Profile for Christopher Crouch   Email Christopher Crouch         Edit/Delete Post 
Somewhat sad; not only in seeing some noteable theatres with questionable futures, but seeing a formerly noteable chain fading away in such a half assed fashion. Extra sad when you consider the end of Mann basically breaks a heritage that stretches back to National General and Fox West Coast. While the literal link arguably ended with FWC/NG/Mann veteran Bill Hertz's passing last year, this move unquestionably marks the end of an era.

I'd suspect the Chinese will end up going to some entrepreneur/investment group, rather than an established chain. Let's just hope they don't try getting "creative" with the theatre.

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Chris Utley
Senior Member

Posts: 631
From: Torrance, CA
Registered: May 2003


 - posted August 11, 2009 08:21 AM      Profile for Chris Utley   Author's Homepage   Email Chris Utley         Edit/Delete Post 
I have a baaaaad feeling that Regal's gonna snap up Graumans. Hopefully someone will do what Paul Allen did in Seattle: buy up Graumans/Village/Bruin & appoint a chain to manage them.

I still say, though, Village/Bruin could be the centerpieces of Arclight Westwood if Decurion (Pacific/Arclight) can strike a deal.

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Brad Erickson
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Posts: 117
From: West Hollywood, CA
Registered: May 2006


 - posted August 11, 2009 09:04 AM      Profile for Brad Erickson   Email Brad Erickson         Edit/Delete Post 
The Village and Bruin have the problem in being in an area that is over-run with issues. Westwood Village is a mess and needs CPR. There are strict regulations they have to be followed in order to do an 'Arclight' situation. I believe that with any new Cinema complex built they need to provide parking. The parking siutation is still bad. Also, which screen would you attach it to? The Bruin has the space behind it which was discussed before, but would more screens help the area? They need to entice people into coming in Westwood again. Hopefully Mann will extend the lease past March for a bit. I have a feeling that both theatres may lay vacant for a while.

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Chris Utley
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Posts: 631
From: Torrance, CA
Registered: May 2003


 - posted August 11, 2009 09:13 AM      Profile for Chris Utley   Author's Homepage   Email Chris Utley         Edit/Delete Post 
I think that whoever buys Graumans will probably take over the leases at Village/Bruin. Or, as some have suggested, perhaps the Village will become a live performance theatre and the Bruin would stay as is. Once again, it's all armchair quarterbacking on all of our parts.

If it were up to me, I'd keep Village, dump all that crap sitting to the left of the theatre (the Starbucks, the video arcade, the parking lot, etc.) and build the Arclight plex adjacent to Village, keep Bruin & build a 8 level parking structure behind it. If we REALLY wanted to get lofty, I'd build a walkway above Village/Bruin connecting the new plex to the parking structure - thereby keeping the 2 current theatres connected.

Great idea on paper. But, of course, those who hold the pursestrings over Westwood Village would find 50 million reasons to veto it.

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Brad Erickson
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Posts: 117
From: West Hollywood, CA
Registered: May 2006


 - posted August 11, 2009 10:11 AM      Profile for Brad Erickson   Email Brad Erickson         Edit/Delete Post 
The owners of the Bruin and Village are in a position now. If they do not re-lease the properties they will lose income on them. They may have to offer an introductory bargain lease to entice someone willing to take them. Eventually Westwood will have a comeback; but it will not happen soon. If someone is willing to take a chance and perhaps add a multiplex it may pay off in the future. It all depends on Westwood itself, effort needs to be made to make the place attractive again.

Like I said, they may lay empty for a while.

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Mark Campbell
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Posts: 437
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: Oct 2004


 - posted August 11, 2009 10:33 AM      Profile for Mark Campbell   Email Mark Campbell         Edit/Delete Post 
I wonder if Pacific would acquire The Chinese and Chinese 6 just to keep the competition out. Then they could spread bookings over more screens and perhaps book a film at the Arclight and the Chinese if demand calls for it.

Westwood seems hopeless...

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Chris Utley
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Posts: 631
From: Torrance, CA
Registered: May 2003


 - posted August 11, 2009 11:16 AM      Profile for Chris Utley   Author's Homepage   Email Chris Utley         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Then they could spread bookings over more screens and perhaps book a film at the Arclight and the Chinese if demand calls for it.
Like what happened earlier this summer with "Terminator Salvation." That actually makes sense...especially when you add Disney to the equation. With El Capitan only having 1 screen, Pacific could run Disney product on 2 more screens (at least) if they owned Chinese 6.

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Bill Gabel
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Posts: 288
From: New York, NY
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted August 11, 2009 12:25 PM      Profile for Bill Gabel           Edit/Delete Post 
They are selling whats remaining on the Mann's Chinese lease which is 14 more years. Mann Theatres owns the building till the 99 year ground lease expires in 2023. CIM owns the land the theatre sits on. When the original deal went through they knew they would not get ownership of the theatre till the ground lease expired.

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Brad Erickson
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Posts: 117
From: West Hollywood, CA
Registered: May 2006


 - posted August 11, 2009 02:52 PM      Profile for Brad Erickson   Email Brad Erickson         Edit/Delete Post 
I think Mann will have no problem with takers for just about all of the theatres except Westwood. Regency, Regal, maybe Pacific, or the company Rave who is taking the Beverly Center are probably considering the Thousand Oaks, Van Nuys, Granada Hills, Glendale, Westlake Village theatres.

I would imagine there will be a STRONG bidding war for the Criterion. Maybe Pacific. They would probably like to get a venue in Santa Monica.

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Bill Gabel
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Posts: 288
From: New York, NY
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted August 11, 2009 03:37 PM      Profile for Bill Gabel           Edit/Delete Post 
Mann's Criterion complex is the best of the First Run theatres in the city. It's funny they operated it till the 1970's and dropped it from the chain. When the chain was dropping low performing houses and now the location is a gold mine.

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Brad Erickson
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Posts: 117
From: West Hollywood, CA
Registered: May 2006


 - posted August 11, 2009 03:57 PM      Profile for Brad Erickson   Email Brad Erickson         Edit/Delete Post 
I grew up in Santa Monica and loved the Criterion as a child and a teenager. Back when it was a Mann theatre I saw many films there including about most of the Disney films, I fondly remember seeing Jaws and The Great Waldo Pepper there in February '76 when Jaws was re-issued.

When it went bargain and was 2nd Run Double Features for 49cents I was there every Friday during the Summer of 1979. The theatre was Huge and every seat in the house was fantastic.

There was a time when it was a triple feature for a bargain price. I actually sat through a Triple Feature of Best Defense/Joy of Sex and Grandview U.S.A. and another of Mike's Murder/Purple Hearts and Sudden Impact.

Currently, I think the Criterion is the complex they run that may be the most desired by the other chains during this bidding period.

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Scott D. Neff
Tour Guide

Posts: 661
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted August 12, 2009 09:37 AM      Profile for Scott D. Neff   Email Scott D. Neff         Edit/Delete Post 
I think it's funny that nobody mentioned Cinemark... clearly a company that has interests surrounding the L.A. markets, but nothing so notable as the Chinese. Getting all the theatres along 101 out to Ventura would definitely look impressive for them.

I can see a lot of logic with that RAVE suggestion. They seem to be an ambitous company and this would suddenly give them a major presence in California.

Though at the same time I can see Regal stepping in with the Chinese like they did with the E-Walk in Times Square.

Needless to say it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Mann Theatres & National Amusements both down in the same year... so sad.

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Chris Utley
Senior Member

Posts: 631
From: Torrance, CA
Registered: May 2003


 - posted August 12, 2009 10:11 AM      Profile for Chris Utley   Author's Homepage   Email Chris Utley         Edit/Delete Post 
Forgot about NA being on the block. They own The Bridge in Westchester (the only theatre they own in LA). And pray to God that Rave doesn't buy Chinese. They'll actually try to put stadium seating in the place. And that loud ass neon green/orange will most def be out of place there!

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