The Carmike 12 theater in Kennewick will become part of the AMC chain under a deal OK’d this week by federal regulators.
AMC Entertainment Holdings has been cleared to buy Carmike Cinemas under the settlement but it must sell 24 theaters in 15 markets to avoid creating a monopoly.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division sued to block the $1.2 billion transaction. First announced in March, the deal will create the nation’s largest movie chain with more than 9,000 screens at more than 700 theaters.
AMC has an unexpected Washington connection. Former Gov. Gary Locke was appointed to its board in February.
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If the settlement is approved by the court, AMC (NYSE: AMC) will sell some of its theaters in nine states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
388 AMC theaters
271 Carmike theaters
The antitrust issues do not apply in the Tri-Cities, where Carmike competes with Regal Cinemas Columbia Mall Stadium 8, Fairchild Cinemas Queensgate 12 in Richland and Fairchild Pasco on Convention Drive.
The deal is subject to a 60-day comment period, meaning it won’t close until late February 2017 at the earliest.
It was not immediately clear if AMC will honor Carmike-issued prepaid tickets, gift cards or its annual popcorn bucket, which allows customers to purchase a popcorn bucket that is eligible for discounts throughout the year.
AMC, based in Leawood, Kan., had about 388 theaters and 5,295 screens in September, with operations in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Its U.S. box office revenue was $1.9 billion in 2015, according to regulators.
Carmike, based in Columbus, Ga., had 271 theaters with 2,917 theaters in 41 states in September and U.S. box office revenue of $490 million in 2015.