THIRD STREET — All three movie theaters on the Third Street Promenade now have a single operator, since AMC Entertainment on Friday acquired the lease of the theater formerly known as the Mann Criterion 6, located near Arizona Avenue.

AMC also operates a seven-screen theater and a four-screen theater on the promenade.

A spokesman for AMC, Justin Scott, said the company has no plans to close the Criterion.

“There’s going to be no immediate changes whatsoever, but now it’s going to be part of the AMC family,” he said.

The terms of the lease takeover were not disclosed.

AMC’s acquisition, though, could have implications for the company’s plan to develop a state-of-the-art 12-screen theater on Fourth Street at the present site of Parking Structure No. 3.

AMC and its partner, Metropolitan Pacific Capital, are in the early stages of getting their project entitled and hope to open in 2013. A Planning Commission hearing on the proposed theater concept is scheduled for July 7.

City Hall officials have said AMC will be required to reduce the number of seats at its older theaters so that the opening of the new multi-plex will result in only a “modest” net increase of about 570 theater seats Downtown.

The company is in negotiations to close the AMC Loews Broadway 4 to comply with the seat limit requirement.

John Warfel, principal at Metropolitan, said AMC still plans to close the Broadway but will have additional options now that the company operates the Criterion.

“This will just allow AMC some flexibility as to how [the seat reconfiguration is] accomplished,” he said. “It adds another option and was sort of a natural thing to do.”

A call to Mann Theaters was not returned on Monday.

With the acquisition, AMC will be the sole company that screens mainstream new releases in Santa Monica. The other two theaters in town, the Aero Theater on Montana Avenue and the Laemmle Monica Fourplex on Second Street, play older films and arthouse releases.

Miriam Mack, City Hall’s economic development manager, said that although AMC’s acquisition will give it a movie theater monopoly on the promenade, the consolidation shouldn’t mean higher ticket prices or fewer movie options.

“It will, I think, give AMC more clout in our movie zone,” she said, and could mean the company will be able to bring better movies to its Santa Monica locations because it will have more sway with movie distributors.

Warfel said these days it’s rare for multiple movie exhibitors to operate theaters in close proximity to each other.

“It is more typical to have a single operator in a designated area,” he said. “This is really getting back to what is a more customary set up.”

Reached on Monday, Councilman Kevin McKeown said the acquisition didn’t necessarily raise concerns.

“Monopolies are inherently disquieting to me, but we have no control over national consolidations in the film exhibition business,” he said. “The bright side is that a more powerful exhibitor has the clout to bring in the best films, and for moviegoers, prices are regionally competitive.”

nickt@www.smdp.com

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