More overseas buyers will enter the U.S. theater business in the next few years as the industry consolidates, said Gerry Lopez, chief executive of Leawood-based AMC Entertainment Holdings.
The No. 2 U.S. cinema chain was taken over by China’s Dalian Wanda Group in 2012 and went public the next year. Lopez said he has seen interest from others, without giving specifics.
“I wouldn’t expect that over a period of the next one to three years, by any stretch, that Wanda would be the only foreign interest to acquire assets here,” Lopez said.
The rebounding U.S. economy will drive interest from international suitors, Lopez said. While AMC and several small chains have traded hands in recent years, Regal Entertainment Group, the biggest U.S. theater circuit, dropped plans to sell itself in January.
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With 2015 off to a “roaring start” with “American Sniper,” “The SpongeBob Movie” and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the North American box office could set a record this year, Lopez said.
“The U.S. market remains very attractive to foreign interest,” Lopez said. “That interest is going to be somewhat tempered at the moment because of the strength of the dollar.”
| Bloomberg News