IPO is a coming attraction

AMC cites theater quality in filing

AMC Entertainment's parent company, Marquee Holdings Inc., said Monday that it has filed for an initial public offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The second-largest U.S. theater chain has not yet determined how many shares will be offered or the price range for the offering.

AMC, based in Kansas City, Mo., completed its purchase of Loews Cineplex in January, giving the company 312 theaters and 4,468 screens in the U.S. The circuit owns 92 theaters and 1,007 screens in Mexico, South America and Spain. AMC also is a 29% stakeholder in National Cine-Media, the cinema screen advertising venture involving Regal and Cinemark, which announced its intent to go public in October.

Marquee Holdings, an affiliate of JPMorgan Partners and Apollo Management, purchased AMC in July 2004 after the company's initial merger talks with Loews Cineplex fell apart.

The exhibition industry has largely stabilized in the past few years after the overbuilding boom of the 1990s forced many chains into bankruptcy. There now is concern that with all this additional public money flowing into the industry, building might restart with a frenzy. There are more than 38,000 screens in the U.S., which could increase as money flows into the circuits.

According to AMC's S-1 form filed with the SEC, the company considers its proactive efforts to close older, underperforming theaters as "a major factor that further differentiates us from our competitors and has contributed to our overall theater portfolio quality." The document says that AMC has identified 52 multiplex theaters with 418 screens that it might close during the next one to three years.