Consolidation in the North American exhibition sector continues apace as AMC Entertainment acquired ailing General Cinemas out of bankruptcy court. Under the agreement, AMC, the second-largest exhibitor by screens, will pay the creditors of General's parent GC Companies valued at more than $175m in cash and AMC stock . AMC Chairman and CEO Peter Brown said the acquisition would expand AMC's presence in important major markets, particularly in the Northeast and upper Midwest,

The largest US circuit that has not entered bankruptcy protection, AMC operates 177 theatres with 2,836 screens in the United States, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. The GC deal is subject to regulatory approval although the bankruptcy court is expected to rule in AMC's favour in March 2002.

GC Companies currently operates 73 theatres with 677 screens in the United States and has a 50% interest in a joint venture that operates 17 theatres with 160 screens in South America. Post bankruptcy, the United States totals for GC Companies are expected to be 66 theatres with 621 screens.