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Milwaukee movie chain buys 6 Twin Cities theaters
St. Paul Pioneer Press - [12/12/97] Reprinted without permission


An invasion of the Twin Cities movie-theater market by national chains was joined Thursday by Marcus Theatres of Milwaukee, which announced an agreement to purchase six movie houses owned by Guetschoff Theatre Management, Cambridge.

The theaters changing hands have a total of 44 screens and are located mostly at the edge of the Twin Cities area, where population growth has been strongest.

The movie houses, known as GTI theaters, are in Hastings, Rosemount, Apple Valley, Cambridge, Elk River and Shakopee.

"We were looking to enter the Twin Cities market," Marcus Theatres president Bruce Olson said, "and we found a little jewel."

The theaters range from five to 10 screens, but Olson said the company will convert some to 14- to 18-screen megaplexes and retrofit most with stadium seating, a steeply sloped configuration that's becoming a staple of new urban theaters. Such theaters advertise "never a blocked view."

Marcus Theatres is a division of Marcus Corp., a hotel and restaurant company whose stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The growing theater division currently is the 18th-largest movie-theater company in America with 297 screens. An aggressive growth plan envisions 400 screens within a year, including the 44 from GTI.

Marcus' emergence in the Twin Cities comes in the wake of aggressive megaplex construction all over the region. Eleven such theaters, with a total of 181 screens, are planned to open in less than a year, boosting the area's total by about 50 percent.

Three in Lakeville, Plymouth and Coon Rapids are set to open by Christmas, with the others scheduled to open between early 1998 and early 1999. They are planned for Inver Grove Heights, Eagan, Apple Valley, Oakdale, Mounds View, and Eden Prairie.

If all are built, some existing Twin Cities theaters are bound to close, say experts in the theater business. But there's some question whether all will become reality.

Two different groups of developers, for example, have announced plans to build 20-screen megaplexes across the street from each other in Eden Prairie.

General Growth Properties, Chicago, says it will renovate a nine-screen United Artists theater in Eden Prairie Center into a 20-screen megaplex, and the Centres Group, suburban Milwaukee, says it will build a 20-screen Regal Cinema close-by.

Eden Prairie development director Chris Enger said both are proceeding with plans, but it is possible one will drop out. Each may be trying to scare the other away, he said.

Minneapolis Star Tribune, 12/12/97

Marcus Theatres Corp., a division of the Marcus Corp., Milwaukee, said it has signed a definitive purchase agreement to acquire six Twin Cities area theaters. Terms were not disclosed. The six theaters are in Hastings (seven screens plus two opening soon), Rosemount (eight screens), Apple Valley (six screens), Shakopee (six screens), Elk River (10 screens) and Cambridge (five screens).

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