updated 1/26/2006 3:47:56 PM ET 2006-01-26T20:47:56

AMC Entertainment Inc. on Thursday said it had completed its purchase of Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp., strengthening its position as the second-largest U.S. movie theater operator.

The Kansas City-based company now will operate 415 theaters with 5,672 screens in 29 states and the District of Columbia and 11 foreign countries. Annual revenues for the privately held company are expected to be around $2.4 billion.

Financial terms for the deal were not released.

"What I'm most excited about is the potential to continue the innovation and lead our industry the way both of these companies have been doing," said Peter Brown, AMC's chairman and chief executive officer, who will remain head of the company. "I think the innovation potential and the growth potential are enormous."

Travis Reid, Loews' president and CEO, will serve as a board member for AMC's parent company, Marquee Holdings Inc.

In an interview, Brown said he didn't foresee the company changing the overall number of theaters, although he said it will continue to replace older theaters with newer, stadium-style ones. He also didn't predict any changes to its worldwide work force of 24,000.

AMC and Loews agreed last year to sell 10 theaters with 120 screens to resolve consolidation concerns by the Justice Department and attorneys general in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Washington state and the District of Columbia. The theaters are in Chicago, New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas and Washington, D.C.

Before the acquisition, AMC operated 226 theaters with 3,522 screens, while Loews, based in New York City, operated 198 theaters with 2,235 screens.

Combined, they still remain behind Knoxville, Tennessee-based Regal Entertainment Group, which controls 6,605 screens at 579 theaters in 40 states.

The combination follows a year in which U.S. ticket sales were at the lowest level since 1997, a problem the industry blamed on bad films as well as stiff competition for consumers' entertainment dollars.

AMC's screens in international markets include Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Hong Kong, France, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.

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