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6 Theater Chains Team Up to Provide Services Online

Movies: They hope to bring in additional partners for the new company, which will sell tickets over the phone and on the Internet.

March 09, 2000|From Bloomberg News

LAS VEGAS — Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. and five other movie theater chains agreed to form a company to sell tickets and provide reviews and show times for moviegoers over the Internet, phone and wireless devices.

Loews will team with Regal Cinemas Inc., Cinemark Theatres, GC Cos.' General Cinema Theatres, Edwards Theatres and Century Theatres. The new company, which hasn't been named yet, will begin selling tickets this summer and will be funded with $30 million from the partners.

The venture is the first cooperative effort by theater chains to reach consumers directly online instead of through sites such as America Online Inc.'s AOL Moviefone. The companies will provide ticketing exclusively through the service and are betting that their ability to promote the site in their theaters will give them an edge over online competitors. Two venture capital firms, General Atlantic Partners and Accretive Technology, also will be partners in the venture.

"Remote ticketing has really become an extension of our business. We need to participate in the revenue that will be generated from this," Lawrence Ruisi, chief executive of Loews, said at a news conference in Las Vegas, where the movie exhibition industry is holding its annual ShoWest convention.

The six theater chains operate more than 12,000 screens in North America and in 1999 sold more than $600 million in tickets. The companies said they hope to attract other theater chains to join them in the service.

That might be difficult. AMC Entertainment Inc. joined with Hollywood.com last month to form MovieTickets.com. Closely held National Amusements this month became an equal equity partner in that business, and CBS Corp., Hollywood.com's largest shareholder, said Wednesday that it will take a 5% equity stake in MovieTickets.com.

CBS will provide $25 million of advertising for MovieTickets.com on its TV and radio stations, networks and other outlets. CBS is being acquired by Viacom Inc., which in turn is controlled by Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone's National Amusements theater chain.

MovieTickets.com will represent more than 4,000 screens and is trying to sign up more theater chains to join the service. It plans to start its service in May.

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