Wehrenberg Theatres, the oldest family-owned and operated movie theater chain in the United States, has agreed to be acquired by another family-owned Midwest theater operator.
Marcus Theatres of Milwaukee, Wis., has signed an agreement to acquire the assets of Wehrenberg, operator of the Galaxy 16 Cine in northeast Cedar Rapids. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Marcus owns and operates the Coral Ridge Cinema in Coralville, the Sycamore Cinema in Iowa City, the College Square Cinema in Cedar Falls and the Crossroads Cinema in Waterloo. With the purchase of Wehrenberg, Marcus will operate 885 screens at 68 locations in eight states.
In a news release announcing the proposed acquisition, Marcus said it will retain the Wehrenberg name on the acquired theaters. The companies expect to complete the deal next month, subject to customary closing conditions, consents and approvals.
“Acquisitions are an important component of our growth strategy and we are pleased to add the Wehrenberg Theatres locations to our circuit,” Gregory Marcus, president and CEO of the Marcus Corp., owner of Marcus Theatres, said in the news release. “We anticipate a smooth integration of Wehrenberg Theatres into our circuit and expect the acquisition will be accretive to both earnings and cash flow.”
Ronald Krueger, 75, the third generation of his family to serve as president and CEO of Wehrenberg Theatres, died in October 2015. Krueger, who inherited Wehrenberg Theatres in 1963 when he was 22, operated the chain with his wife, Midge, for many years. The chain was founded by Fred Wehrenberg in 1906 in a storefront on Cherokee Street in south St. Louis.
The 14 Wehrenberg Theatres locations include nine in the greater St. Louis area; one each in Cedar Rapids; Cape Girardeau and Lake Ozark, Mo.; Rochester, Minn., and Bloomington, Ill. Marcus Theatres also will acquire the underlying real estate for six of the locations.
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The merger of Marcus and Wehrenberg comes at a time when AMC Entertainment is waiting for approval to acquire Carmike Cinemas of Columbus, Ga., for $1.2 billion. The deal, which must be approved by Carmike shareholders and the U.S. Justice Department, would create the largest movie theater chain in the United States, with 8,380 screens across 600 locations in 45 states.
Carmike operates the Carmike Wynnsong 12 on Edgewood Road SW in Cedar Rapids.
Leawood, Kan.-based AMC is owned by China’s Dalian Wanda Group, which purchased the company in 2012 for $2.6 billion.