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Loews Theatres, aka Loews Incorporated, founded in 1904 by Marcus Loew, was the oldest theater chain operating in North America until it merged with AMC Theatres on January 26, 2006. From 1924 until 1959 it was also the parent company of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios. The Loews name is still used by AMC in most markets.

The company was originally called "Loew's", after the founder, Marcus Loew, until 1969 when the Tisch brothers acquired the company.


Loew's Theatres Incorporated was founded in 1904 in Cincinnati, Ohiomarker by entrepreneur Marcus Loew. Loew founded a chain of nickelodeon theaters which showed short silent films in storefront locations. Soon the successful enterprise grew to include deluxe vaudeville houses and finally lavish movie palaces. Loew's theaters were found in cities from coast-to-coast, but primarily in East Coast and Midwest states.

To provide quality films for his theaters, Loew founded Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM) in 1924, from the earlier firms Metro Pictures, Louis B. Mayer, and Goldwyn Pictures. Loew's Incorporated served as distribution arm and parent company for the Hollywoodmarker studio until the two were forced to separate by United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. (1948), a U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker ruling. The two split in 1954.

In 1985, when federal regulations had been relaxed, Tri-Star Pictures acquired the Loews theater chain from Loews Corporation, the successor company to the original firm founded by Marcus Loew. Loews Corporation by this time was a holding company owned by brothers Robert and Laurence Tisch highly diversified in non-entertainment business interests ranging from hotels to insurance.

Upon the full acquisition of Tri-Star to Columbia Pictures, and when Columbia was bought by Sony in 1989, Sony inherited the theaters as well. For a while, Loews operated under the Sony Theaters banner. Coincidentally, a Sony-led partnership would later acquire MGM in 2005.

In 1994, Sony partnered with Magic Johnson to form Magic Johnson Theaters, a mini-chain of theaters specifically geared toward the inner cities, particularly in Los Angeles. A year before, Sony Dynamic Digital Sound was installed in several theaters since the parent company used it as a marketing ploy to promote Sony's cinema sound division, which shut down in 2002.

In 1998, Cineplex Odeon Corporation merged with Loews Theaters to form Loews Cineplex Entertainment. The combined company was one of the largest movie exhibitors in the world, with theaters in the United Statesmarker, Canadamarker, Mexicomarker, South Koreamarker, and Spainmarker. In 2001, though, the company declared Chapter 11 as a result of absorbing Cineplex's financial woes.

In 2002, Onex Corporation and Oaktree Capital Management acquired Loews Cineplex. In 2004, they sold it, minus its Canadian assets, to a private group of investors which included the Carlyle Group.

In 2005, AMC Theatres announced that it would merge with Loews Cineplex Entertainment and that the merged company would adopt the AMC name. The Loews name would remain a brand under the new company. At the time of the merger, Loews operated 198 theaters with 2,235 screens. It is not affiliated with its former parent, the Loews Corporation.

See also


  1. Caren Lissner, "Apostrophe catastrophe". The Hudson Reporter, November 5, 2005.

Further reading

  • Robert Sobel The Entrepreneurs: Explorations Within the American Business Tradition (Weybright & Talley 1974), luca 7, Marcus Loew: An Artist in Spite of Himself ISBN 0-679-40064-8.
  • Brief history of AMC Theatres.

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