Paramount to Buy Trans-Lux Movie Houses
Paramount Pictures, already the owner of a large chain of Canadian motion picture houses, said Tuesday that it has agreed in principle to acquire 24 Trans-Lux theater screens for about $15 million.
The deal signals Paramount’s re-entry into U.S. exhibition after a 37-year absence. The company divided its movie-making and exhibition businesses in 1949 as the culmination of federal antitrust action. Paramount Pictures, which retained the production unit, was not barred from theater ownership under the consent decree that it signed. (Nor were three other studios, Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures and United Artists.)
Trans-Lux Chairman Richard Brandt said the sale includes one New York theater, the Gotham Cinema, which he described as one of Manhattan’s eight or 10 “key houses” for opening significant motion pictures. Trans-Lux, based in Norwalk, Conn., has been in the exhibition business since 1931 but derives two-thirds of its revenue from the production of electronic teleprinters and ticker devices for the financial markets.
If Paramount, a Gulf & Western subsidiary, completes the acquisition, it will become the fourth movie distributor to invest in the exhibition side of the business in less than a year.
Last month, MCA acquired 50% of Cineplex Odeon for about $159 million and Cannon Group announced plans to buy Commonwealth Theatres for $24 million.
Last January, Columbia Pictures Industries paid nearly $17 million to complete its purchase of Walter Reade Organization.