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AEG sale won't include Anschutz film company, theater chain stake

September 19, 2012|By Ben Fritz and Richard Verrier
  • The sale of AEG will not include Anschutz properties such as the Regal Entertainment Group cinema chain or Walden Media, the maker of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," above.
The sale of AEG will not include Anschutz properties such as the Regal Entertainment…

The AEG sale that includes L.A. Live, the Galaxy soccer team and a stake in the Lakers excludes two key entertainment assets: Family film company Walden Media and a controlling stake in theater chain Regal Entertainment Group. The Anschutz Co. and its billionnaire owner are holding onto those.

Walden, which has co-financed or produced "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "Journey to the Center of the Earth" series, and Regal, the largest movie theater chain in the U.S. with nearly 6,600 screens in 37 states, will be Anschutz's only entertainment holdings once the sale of AEG is complete.

Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz is not known for holding assets indefinitely, so it may only be a matter of time until he looks to unload Walden and Regal. However, for now, his sales effort is focused entirely on AEG, a spokesman said.

Walden has long focused on family-friendly films with positive messages. But since 2010's third "Narnia" picture, "Voyage of the Dawn Treader," took in a so-so $416 million worldwide, it has financed only one movie: last year's small romantic comedy "Monte Carlo". (Walden produced but didn't invest in February's "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island".)

However, in the next three months Walden has three movies that will be released by its longtime partner, 20th Century Fox: the inner-city school drama "Won't Back Down," the surfing story "Chasing Mavericks," and the family comedy "Parental Guidance."

Despite the headlines surrounding AEG, Walden is focused on business as usual, said a person close to the company not authorized to speak publicly. The company has several movies nearly ready to go into production and hopes to start shooting at least two more in early 2013. Overall the company, which has about 45 employees, has 25 projects in development.

Anschutz is the largest individual shareholder in publicly held, Regal Entertainment. The Knoxville, Tenn., company also is part owner of the national cinema advertising company National Cinemedia, which also is unaffected by the AEG sale.

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