Remove ads with our VIP Service
- Marcus West Point Luxury Cinema
- Marcus Westown
- AMC Mayfair Mall 18
- Mayfair Mall Premium Cinema
- Marcus Southtown
West Allis, WI
Add Your Comments
- Aurora, CO: AMC Debuts "Red Kitchen" Dining Concept at AMC Southlands 16 [3/11]
- Franklin, TN: IMAX Opens at Carmike Thoroughbred 20 [3/10]
- San Jose, CA: Days Are Numbered for Movies at the Dome Theaters [3/10]
- Buffalo, NY: North Park Theatre to Reopen March 7, 2014 [3/4]
- Decatur, GA: Big Cinemas South Dekalb Stadium 12 Closed [3/3]
- Norcross, GA: Big Cinemas Peachtree Funplex 8 Closed [3/3]
- Valdosta, GA: GTC Ashley 8 Cinemas Closed [3/3]
- 2014 Academy Award Winners [3/2]
- Milwaukee, WI: Avalon Theatre Planning June 2014 Opening [2/27]
- St. Joseph, MO: Screenland Plaza 8 Closing March 2, 2014 [2/27]
(from the archives)
December 2, 1996
by Mark Kass
of The Business Journal - Serving Greater Milwaukee
Reprinted here with permission from the Saturday November 30th, 1996 issue of The Business Journal - Serving Greater Milwaukee
With construction beginning in another month on the largest, most lucrative cinema complex in Wisconsin, how is it The Marcus Corp., the state's largest movie theater chain, was shut out of the Mayfair Mall project?
And whatever became of the Milwaukee company's plans for a similarly grandiose theater complex on Highway 100?
The answers to both those questions provide a look at how Marcus tries to use its size and market dominance to win projects and keep competitors out -- and how that tactic didn't work in a high-stakes bid for a marquee project.
And it was the first example of the expected battle in the Milwaukee-area movie industry now that several large national movie chains are planning to enter a market that Marcus has dominated for years.
When the owners of Mayfair Mall sought proposals for a multiscreen movie theater in January, they intentionally omitted Marcus, even though it is the dominant theater operator in the metropolitan Milwaukee market.
Representatives of the Wauwatosa shopping center decided they would receive better proposals from large national chains with more experience building ultra-modern theaters.
"We knew (Marcus) had the most to lose by this project going forward, and that could impact the information they would provide to us," said Mayfair general manager Stephen Smith.
Marcus ultimately made a pitch for the project in the late stages of deliberations, but Mayfair instead chose AMC Entertainment Inc. of Kansas City, the second-largest theater chain in the United States, in May. AMC plans to build a 24-screen theater on the mall's second floor.
Construction on the $5 million theater will begin in January and be completed by November 1997, in time for the holiday movie season. The 100,000-square-foot theater will be the state's largest, with projected revenue of more than $10 million a year.
The decision to give the contract to AMC was seen as a blow to Marcus, which has controlled most new theater development in the Milwaukee-area market for years, one retail observer said. A major national theater chain like AMC will likely take its share of the movie-going public's money, he said.
Marcus put up a fight for its territory, though.
The company unveiled plans in March for a 20-screen theater at the site of the former Borden Inc. plant, 1540 S. 108th St., in West Allis, two miles south of Mayfair Mall. The 4,000-seat complex was to open by December.
As of late November, however, Marcus officials had submitted no plans to the city of West Allis. In addition, the company's contract to buy the site lapsed in October, and Marcus chose not to renew it, said Mel Sedlock, director of real estate for Borden.
"We are looking at other offers right now," he said.
Bruce Olson, president of Marcus Theatres Corp., a Marcus subsidiary, said plans for the Borden site have been scrapped. Instead, he said, the company is pursuing several possibilities for a similar development. The sites are in the central metropolitan area, but he declined to identify the locations further.
"It may even end up being a larger development because the sites we are looking at are larger in acreage," Olson said.
Planning representatives in West Allis and Wauwatosa said they hadn't heard of any new Marcus theater developments in their communities.
Mayfair's Smith said Marcus unveiled its plans for the Borden site while still in negotiations for the Mayfair Mall theater complex. He first learned of the West Allis project by reading about it in the newspaper.
"It looked like they were trying to get the jump on AMC to try to force them not to pursue the project because there would be a comparable project built nearby," Smith said.
If so, it didn't work.
"Of course, we had some concern," said Rick King, senior vice president of the northeast division for AMC. "But we believed that Mayfair Mall is a much better location and would still be a successful project."
Mayfair Mall representatives and tenants claim Marcus tried to orchestrate opposition against the theater development as Wauwatosa officials reviewed the project. At one hearing, a resident handed out unflattering pictures of an AMC theater in Dallas and asked if this is what city officials wanted in Wauwatosa.
The only contact city officials had from Marcus was a warning that the AMC development could force the closure of its Tosa Theater, 6823 W. North Ave., said Wauwatosa Mayor Maricollete Walsh. The one-screen theater was sold recently to two Mequon residents.
"There was some information presented at the public hearings that I don't know how it could have gotten into some people's hands," said Gordon Rozmus, city planning director.
Olson adamantly denies Marcus tried to block or even oppose the AMC project.
"We believe in the free enterprise system and we enjoy competition," he said. "We welcome AMC to the market and look forward to a healthy competition with them. Competition stimulates innovations in technology and customer service."
Too close to home
The reason Mayfair Mall invited AMC into the Milwaukee market and dealt Marcus out of initial considerations was that the mall's owners were also looking at developing a similar project at a Virginia shopping center it owns, said Smith.
"This center is 1,500 miles away from here and Marcus had never done a project that was more than 200 miles away from Milwaukee," he said.
The Mayfair proposal had two firm requirements. The theater must have only one entrance on the second level, and it must include stadium seating. The number of screens was negotiable.
Six national theater chains made proposals to Mayfair: AMC; Hoyt's Cinemas, Boston; Cineplex Odeon Corp., Toronto; United Artists Theaters, Denver; and Cinemark USA Inc., Dallas.
The list was quickly narrowed to AMC, Hoyt's and Cineplex Odeon.
"As we got into the next level of negotiations, it became obvious that AMC was the best one for our project, along with the theater at our other center," Smith said.
At that point, Marcus made a presentation to Mayfair's owners, but it didn't meet the requirements. Marcus proposed a 16-screen theater with an exterior entrance, which Mayfair wouldn't consider.
"One of the main points in doing the project is to increase traffic on the second level, and if you have an exterior entrance, you lose some of the impact," Smith said.
Retailers on the second level of the 1.2-million-square-foot mall generate an average of 25 percent less sales revenue than first-floor tenants, he said. Mall officials for several years discussed plans to extend the second floor to its two anchors, Marshall Field's and Boston Store.
"To add 100,000 square feet of retail space in today's retail environment would be risky," he said. "But we knew we needed to do something to increase the traffic floor on the second level."
Marcus defended its plan, saying a second-floor only entrance isn't in the best interest of theater customers.
"It doesn't make sense to make people park their cars and walk through the mall to get to the theater," Olson said.
© 1996, The Business Journal
Add Your Comments
No comments found. Be the first and let us know what you think!
Add Your Comments
|Commenting on Journal Articles is available only to our readers who have customized this site, which makes it easier for you to complete the form and for us to contact you with any questions or concerns about your comments.|
Please login or register a new account before continuing.
Log in to retrieve your saved settings.
Forget Your Passcode?Send My Passcode To Me
Not Registered? Create a New Account!
Our registered members enjoy more features, including:
- Save Your ZIP Code -- the site remembers your ZIP code, no having to re-enter it each time you visit
- Favorite Theaters List -- keep a handy list of the theaters you attend
- Favorite Movies List - movies you want to see, all in one place
- Write Movie Reviews -- share your opinions of the movies you see
- Block Ads with VIP Service -- view this site ad free (subscription req'd)
Basic accounts are free -- sign up today!
Concerned About Privacy?
Journal/Blog - The Marquee - Movie Links - News and Events - Now Showing - Reader Reviews
Customize - VIP Service
|The BigScreen Cinema Guide is a service of SVJ Designs LLC. All graphics, layout, and structure of this service (unless otherwise specified) are Copyright © 1995-2014, SVJ Designs. The BigScreen Cinema Guide is a trademark of SVJ Designs. All rights reserved.
'ACADEMY AWARDS®' and 'OSCAR®' are the registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.