Media mogul Sumner Redstone puts the business in show business through National Amusements. What began as a humble drive-in theater operation evolved into a powerhouse that controls just under 80% of media giants Viacom and CBS Corporation. Redstone, the controlling stockholder of National Amusements, is chairman of Viacom and CBS Corporation. True to its roots, National Amusements also operates Showcase Cinemas, Multiplex Cinemas, and Cinema de Lux branded theaters -- about 950 screens total -- in the US, the UK, and Latin America. National Amusements additionally operates IMAX theaters in the US and Argentina, and is a partner in online ticketing service MovieTickets.com.
National Amusement has theaters in six US states, including Connecticut, Massacheussets, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island. Internationally, it has theaters in Argentina, Brazil, England, Scotland, and Whales. Four of its US locations and one Argentina location feature IMAX theaters. Six of its locations also feature Chatters Bar & Grill, a full service restaurant. In addition to standard cinema fare, several locations feature live, high-definition sports broadcasting, as well as live stand-up comedy and music.
While its theater operations continue to attract movie-goers, the company sold off several locations in 2010 and 2009, using the proceeds from the sales to help make a dent in its debt. (Previously, National Amusements was charged with some $1.46 billion worth of loans.) In 2010 it sold its Russian movie theater chain consisting of six theaters to Shari Redstone (daughter of Sumner and president and minority shareholder of National Amusements). Shari joined with a private equity firm in order to make the acquisition. And in late 2009 the company sold about 30 theaters to Dallas-based exhibitor Rave Cinemas.
National Amusements also raised funds to help resolve its debt problems by selling shares. In 2009 it sold nearly $1 billion in stock. And in previous efforts to shed non-core assets, in 2008 it sold its 87% stake in videogame company Midway Games. National Amusements' money-losing investment in Midway, in combination with the over-expansion of its movie theater chain, had caused banks to want their loan paid off. – less