Carmike Cinemas chief exits company

No reason given for Michael Patrick's departure

NEW YORK -- In a surprise move, longtime Carmike Cinemas president and CEO Michael Patrick has left the company, with a newly created office of the chairman running the exhibitor until a new CEO is named.

Shares of Carmike fell 6.1% Tuesday to $2.75.

Carmike, which focuses on smaller and midsize markets, tapped lead independent director David Passman as nonexecutive chairman. He along with COO Fred Van Noy and CFO Richard Hare form the office of the chairman.

The Columbus, Ga.-based company didn't give a reason for Patrick's departure but said he will remain on the board. Patrick had served as president since October 1981 and as CEO since March 1989, according to regulatory filings.

Passman said he and his colleagues will "seek new opportunities to create shareholder value." He also said that the exhibitor is "poised to take full advantage of the opportunity presented by digital cinema."

The executive reshuffle comes about a month after billionaire Mark Cuban, who owns the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and co-owns the Landmark Theatres chain, disclosed that he had acquired a 9.4% stake in Carmike. Cuban couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

Passman has served on Carmike's board since June 2003. He recently retired from his post as president and CEO of book publisher and distributor IBS-STL.

Carmike operated 250 theaters with 2,276 screens as of Sept. 30. Of those, 2,147 were equipped with digital-cinema technology and 430 also had 3-D capability.

For the first nine months of 2008, Carmike's financials fell behind 2007 levels amid a tough economy.