Marking the latest shift in the executive suites of the movie theater industry, Regal Entertainment Group said Wednesday that Amy Miles, the company's chief financial officer, had been named chief executive, replacing Mike Campbell, who remains executive chairman.
Miles, 42, a former executive with Deloitte & Touche and PricewaterhouseCoopers, has been Regal's CFO since March 2002. She will be replaced by David Ownby, who has been the company's senior vice president of finance. The changes take effect June 30.
Although Miles will oversee the daily operations of the company, Campbell said he would remain active in various "strategic initiatives," including possible acquisitions of other theater companies and the conversion of Regal's theaters to digital technology. Regal, the nation's No. 1 theater chain, operates 6,782 screens in 550 theaters in 39 states.
Regal, controlled by investor Phil Anschutz, said the change was part of a succession plan under which Campbell, who founded Regal in 1989 and presided over a series of acquisitions, would continue as chairman of the board.
Nonetheless, the news took analysts by surprise. "They may have been working on this a long time, but I don't think Wall Street was anticipating this," said Jeffrey Logsdon of BMO Capital Markets.
Anschutz's entertainment interests include sports and concert giant AEG, movie production company Walden Media as well stakes in the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings.
The announcement, made during the company's annual shareholder meeting in Knoxville, Tenn., came days after Regal announced that net income in the first quarter had dropped 22% to $21.3 million, largely because of charges for closing theaters and interest expense. Revenue for the period was up 6% to $655 million as theater operators benefited from strong ticket sales this year.
Campbell, 55, said in an interview that he suggested the change to the board, citing corporate governance issues to separate the duties of chairman and CEO.
"I think it's just good succession planning and good for the company and something I've been thinking about for the last two years," he said.
Campbell's stepping down comes in the wake of two other recent chief executive turnovers at major theater operators. In February, No. 2-ranked AMC Entertainment Inc. tapped Gerardo Lopez, a former Starbucks Corp. executive, to become chief executive. A month earlier, No. 4-ranked Carmike Cinemas Inc. ousted CEO Michael W. Patrick.
Despite increases in ticket sales this year, attendance levels at movie theaters have been largely flat over the long term as consumers face an ever-wider array of entertainment choices.
Theaters are embracing 3-D technology in the hope of attracting a generation of audiences reared on video games and the Internet.
Regal's management shifts appeared to be supported by Wall Street. The company's shares closed Wednesday at $14.08, up 26 cents.