Merger alert! AMC is taking over local Muvico theaters starting this week

In the $1.2B merger, two bay area Muvicos will become AMCs.
The Muvico Sundial 19 theater in downtown St. Petersburg is owned by Carmike, which is being purchased by AMC Entertainment. The new company will operate 656 theaters. Times file
The Muvico Sundial 19 theater in downtown St. Petersburg is owned by Carmike, which is being purchased by AMC Entertainment. The new company will operate 656 theaters.Times file
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The Justice Department on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for a $1.2 billion merger between theater giants AMC Entertainment Holdings and Carmike Cinemas, the parent company of two Tampa Bay Muvico Theaters.

The department told AMC to sell theaters in 15 specific U.S. markets in order to comply with antitrust laws. Tampa Bay is not among those markets.

Meanwhile, downtown St. Petersburg's sole movie theater, Muvico Sundial 19, is making the switch this week to become an AMC property, said Sarah Dawkins, the marketing manager for the theater. Muvico in Centro Ybor is also being converted.

The Sundial theater's staff and operations will remain the same, Dawkins said. Many of the specifics however, like pricing changes or theater upgrades, are still unclear. The theater will honor gift certificates and previously purchased tickets for the time being.

AMC did not respond to requests for comment.

Georgia-based Carmike purchased Muvico Entertainment in 2013 but opted to keep the Muvico name for the local theaters.

The merger between Carmike and Kansas-based AMC will make it the largest theater company in the country. AMC, which is majority-owned by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin's Dalian Wanda Group, has about 380 theaters. Carmike has 276 locations, and competitor Regal Cinemas has about 549.

Muvico has been the anchor tenant for St. Petersburg's downtown shopping center since it first opened in November 2000. When local entrepreneur Bill Edwards purchased the nearly empty BayWalk plaza in 2011, the theater boosted the property's appeal, said Mike Milano, a managing director for Colliers International in Tampa, who brokered the sale.

The theater's ownership change could benefit Edwards as he seeks a buyer for the property that he spent nearly $30 million to renovate, Milano said.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Contact Alli Knothe at [email protected] Follow @KnotheA.

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