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Cineplex Bulks Up With New Theaters in $200 Million Deal

Canada's largest exhibitor acquires 26 new theaters from rival Empire Theaters.

KARLOVY VARY – Canadian cinema giant Cineplex is getting bigger.

As Empire Company, which runs rival Empire Theaters, exits the Canadian movie exhibition business to focus on its grocery store chain, Cineplex has picked up another 26 theaters, or 218 screens, mainly in Atlantic Canada, for $200 million in cash.

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The deal, subject to closing adjustments, will see Cineplex acquire 24 Empire theaters in Canada's four easternmost provinces -- 13 in Nova Scotia, six in New Brunswick, three in Newfoundland, and two on Prince Edward Island.

Cineplex also picks up two locations in Ontario -- in Whitby and Kanata -- from Stellarton, Nova Scotia-based Empire.

Empire inked a separate deal with western Canadian theater circuit Landmark Cinemas to purchase another 20 Empire locations in Ontario and Western Canada for around $55 million in cash and equity.

The takeover deal is subject to regulatory approvals on competition grounds.

“This is a significant event for Cineplex, as the acquisition will provide our company with a truly national, coast-to-coast presence,” said Ellis Jacob, president and CEO of Cineplex Entertainment.

The acquisition also gives Cineplex a 78 percent share of the Canadian exhibition market, as it continues to supply Hollywood-studio movies to local cinemagoers.