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Monday, June 8, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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A&E Briefing

Cineplex Odeon To Sell Some Theaters In Region

In order to meet a $20 million debt payment due next month, Cineplex Odeon is in the process of selling off its Washington state theaters outside the Seattle-Tacoma area.

Recently the Toronto-based company sold 14 theaters in Texas for $6 million. Last week Cineplex Odeon sold 13 multiplexes (45 screens) in Spokane, Bellingham and the Tri-Cities to Norman Lear's ACT III theater chain for $15 million.

No one at ACT III's Portland offices was available for comment. The sale was confirmed by Howard Lichtman, executive vice president of Cineplex Odeon, who pointed out that Cineplex's Seattle-Tacoma theaters were not part of the deal.

"I think we've stated in the past that our strategy is not to sell theaters in primary marketplaces," he said by phone from Toronto Friday. "Our focus will continue to be primary urban marketplaces and any sales that we plan relate to secondary or tertiary marketplaces where we don't have a major presence."

"This agreement provides a further step in our program to reduce bank indebtedness on a timely basis," said Allen Karp, president and chief executive officer of Cineplex Odeon.

The Texas deal marks the company's first sale of theaters in nearly two years. Rumors circulated last month that Cineplex Odeon would also be selling off its theaters in Arizona, Utah and Seattle.

"We consider Seattle one of the greatest movie-going places there is," said Lichtman. "We don't anticipate changing our

situation there."

ACT III, which took over the Luxury Theaters chain in Seattle-Tacoma, has little competition in Oregon and several other areas where it is the only theater chain with many screens. ACT III is currently building a nine-plex in South Everett. Completion of the sale of Cineplex Odeon's theaters to ACT III is expected in early July.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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