Consider this the trailer to the movie that’s about to be released: It looks as if Bill Warren is selling all of his Warren Theatres in Wichita.
Warren isn’t talking, and no one with Regal Entertainment Group – the Tennessee-based buyer – could be reached for comment on Thursday.
There has been speculation recently that something could be happening with the west-side Warren Theatre. Warren recently paid off the $16 million in industrial revenue bonds he used to build the IMAX theater next to his west-side Warren Theatre in 2010.
Even though the bonds weren’t related to the Old Town Warren Theatre, that theater has been mentioned in sales speculation as well.
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However, it sounds as if the sale could be much bigger than that.
It likely includes the east-side Warren Theatre, part of which Warren remodeled last year to create the Warren 21 adults-only theater, a luxury version of his already upscale theaters. This one includes heated and reclining seats.
The sale probably also includes the Palace West Theatre and Movie Machine theater inside Towne West Square.
What’s not clear is how Warren’s theaters in other states may be affected. He also owns theaters in Springfield, Mo., and Moore and Broken Arrow, Okla.
Warren recently announced plans for two 14-auditorium theaters in Oklahoma City. The $25 million, 100,000-square-foot twin complexes will be in Midwest City, which is next to Tinker Air Force Base, and at Kilpatrick Turnpike and North Eastern Avenue.
If Warren, 68, does sell all of his theaters – or just the ones in Wichita – it will make the second time he has sold a chain.
According to Eagle archives, Warren started American Entertainment in 1970 with then-Pizza Hut chairman Frank Carney as his backer.
The chain grew to include about seven theaters in Kansas and Oklahoma before Warren sold the company to United Artists and Commonwealth Theaters in 1980.
He began what turned out to be less than a decade of retirement before starting Warren Theatres in 1989.