Carmike shareholders accept AMC Theatres’ $1.2 billion buyout

A Carmike theater in Columbus, Ga., where the nation’s No. 4 theater chain also has its headquarters.
A Carmike theater in Columbus, Ga., where the nation’s No. 4 theater chain also has its headquarters. File photo

Shareholders of Carmike Cinemas accepted the $1.2 billion buyout from the Leawood-based parent company of AMC Theatres in a vote Tuesday mo`rning.

Carmike said shareholders voted 72 percent of the company’s total shares in favor of the merger and that some stockholders did not vote. AMC has said federal regulatory approval could come as early as next month.

Buying No. 4 chain Carmike would make AMC the nation’s largest with 8,218 screens, more than Regal Entertainment Group’s 7,310 screens. No. 3 Cinemark has 4,542 screens.

AMC also is growing overseas with a separate $1.2 billion deal to buy Europe’s largest theater chain Odeon & UCI Cinemas.

Shareholders of Carmike, which is fourth-largest in the United States, are to receive a combination of cash and shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. equal to $33.06 for each share of the Georgia-based theater chain that they own.

Regulators may require AMC to sell some theaters in the combination, but wholesale changes aren’t likely. The two chains operate largely in separate markets and appeal to different movie-going audiences, with AMC audiences favoring R-rated action flicks and Carmike viewers favoring family and faith-based films.

Still, AMC’s management had struggled to reach Carmike shareholder approval.

The original bid of $1.1 billion drew objections from large institutional investors with stakes in Carmike. AMC officials declared the deal was “at considerable risk.” Even Carmike’s CEO David Passman said he suffered “melancholy” over the deal.

Carmike’s shareholder vote was put off more than once since the deal originally was announced in March. AMC came back with a higher offer that quelled shareholder concerns ahead of the Tuesday vote.

AMC bought the smaller Starplex Cinemas’ 346 screens last year. Management plans to run two brands after the Carmike deal. Acquired theaters that meet the expectations of an AMC audience would become AMC sites, executives have said.

America’s Big Screens

Regal: 7,310 screens at 565 theaters

AMC: 5,295 screens at 388 theaters

Cinemark: 4,542 screens at 339 theaters

Carmike: 2,923 screens at 271 theaters

Mark Davis: 816-234-4372, @mdkcstar