Amazon.com Inc is in the running to acquire Landmark Theatres, a move that would vault the e-commerce giant into the brick-and-mortar cinema industry, people familiar with the situation said.
The company is vying with other suitors to acquire the business from Wagner/Cuban Cos, which is backed by billionaire Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.
The chain’s owners have been working with investment banker Stephens Inc on a possible sale, the people said, adding that no final decisions have been made and talks could still fall apart.
Pushing into movie theaters would follow Amazon’s expansion into myriad other forms of media, including a film, TV studio and music service.
With Landmark, it would acquire a chain focused on independent and foreign films that was founded in 1974. The company has more than 50 theaters, including high-profile locations in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, with about 250 screens in 27 markets.
Amazon declined to comment. Officials at Landmark could not be reached after normal business hours.
The e-commerce company already spends billions each year on movies and TV shows, saying that it helps entice shoppers to join its Prime subscription plan and makes existing members more likely to renew.
The US government has previously barred film studios from the theater industry, but it said earlier this month that it was considering terminating a 70-year-old Hollywood settlement that halted the vertical integration of studios and theaters.
The so-called Paramount decree might have prevented smaller films from getting wider distribution.
In other developments, Amazon is in talks with European insurers regarding the creation of a UK price-comparison site, a Reuters report said, citing people familiar with the matter.
It is unclear what insurance products would be sold, and there are no imminent plans to launch a site, Reuters said yesterday.
Amazon is sounding out some of Europe’s top insurance firms to see if they would contribute to a UK price-comparison Web site, Reuters reported.
The UK insurance-comparison market is highly competitive, with comparethemarket.com and GoCompare.com Group PLC the major providers.
Amazon, which declined to comment, offers a service called Amazon Protect, which offers accident insurance on consumer goods.
Amazon has previously invested in Indian-based digital insurance startup Acko Technologies and also placed job advertisements for insurance product managers.
Amazon is “disrupting the way traditional product insurance services are acquired and delivered and creating a new palette of services,” an internal job advertisement said.
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