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AMC, Carmike strike deal; both have theaters in Forsyth County

LOS ANGELES — AMC Entertainment is acquiring rival Carmike Cinemas to create the world's largest movie theater chain.

AMC, which Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group bought in 2012, said Thursday it is paying $1.1 billion including debt for Columbus-based Carmike.

AMC owns AMC Avenue Forsyth 12 in the Collection at Forsyth mall, which is off Peachtree Parkway/Exit 13 at Ga. 400, while Carmike owns Movies 400 off Atlanta Road in Cumming.

The combined company will be the dominant theater chain in North American and signals Wanda's further expansion into the entertainment industry.

AMC CEO Adam Aron said he hopes the combination will boost profits in 2017 and enable about $35 million in annual savings, while bringing upscale amenities like alcohol service, reclining chairs and expanded food offerings to more venues.

He said the cost of upgrading would be "reasonable" and profitable. He also said Wanda, which owns 75 percent of AMC, was supportive of the deal, but he declined to speak on behalf of Wanda.

Aron said any possible theater closures would "depend on a conversation with the Justice Department."

He noted there are only a few markets where the companies' theaters overlap and where closures might occur. AMC is focused on larger cities while Carmike is in smaller markets.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. is based in Leawood, Kansas, which will be the combined company's new headquarters.

The acquisition will boost AMC's theater locations by more than 70 percent to some 600 and increase its screen count by half to nearly 8,400. Regal Entertainment Group, the current leader, runs nearly 7,400 screens in about 570 theaters.

The boards of both companies approved the deal, which is expected to close by the end of the year following a review by government competition authorities.