Amazon May Acquire Landmark Theatres Movie Chain Inc. is in the running to acquire Landmark Theatres, a move that would vault the e-commerce giant into the brick-and-mortar cinema industry, according to people familiar with the situation.

Bloomberg reported that Inc. is vying with competitors to acquire Landmark Theatres, the indie-focused theater chain with more than 50 locations across the country. If successful, Amazon would acquire the theater chain from Wagner/Cuban Cos., which is backed by billionaire Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner. The company holds high-profile locations in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, with about 250 screens in 27 markets.

Pushing into movie theaters would follow Amazon’s expansion into myriad other forms of media, including a film and TV studio and music service. With Landmark, it gets a chain focused on independent and foreign films that was founded in 1974. The company has more than 50 theaters, including high-profile locations in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, with about 250 screens in 27 markets.

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Now, Amazon is looking to make inroads into theater chains. This is not a surprising move for the company, which has steadily expanded its original content output in both TV and movies through its Amazon Studios.  The e-commerce company already spends billions each year on movies and TV shows, saying it helps entice shoppers to join its Prime subscription plan and makes existing members more likely to renew.

The company has found critical and commercial success with its theatrical releases, and is perhaps looking for a cheaper form of distribution. The concept of a major movie distributor owning theater chains would have been unthinkable until earlier this month, when the Department of Justice announced plans to review the antitrust rules that barred studios from owning theaters for 70 years.

Amazon, founded as a book seller, previously disrupted that industry by giving authors an alternative to the big publishers, eliminating a middleman between readers and artists. It opened its first brick-and-mortar bookstore in 2015 in Seattle and now has nearly 20 around the country.

So this move has quite fortuitous timing for Amazon. The company can expand its physical presence (just last year, it acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion) while the digital landscape grows more competitive between Netflix, Hulu, and possibly, Apple.

Though the acquisition price for Landmark would likely be small, it would mark a significant new incursion by Amazon into the physical world. The online retailer shocked the supermarket industry last year by acquiring Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, positioning the organic-food chain in the middle of its campaign to sell more groceries.

Amazon, based in Seattle, declined to comment. Officials at Landmark couldn’t be reached after normal business hours.

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Category: Showbiz News

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