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Marcus purchase could bring changes to local cinema

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In the course of the next month, Marcus Theatres will take ownership of the Wehrenberg Theatres chain, but that doesn't necessarily mean the Wehrenberg name will disappear from a local movie marquee.

Milwaukee-based Marcus announced Monday it has agreed to buy St. Louis-based Wehrenberg's 14 locations, including the Galaxy 14 Cine at 4340 Maine Ave. SE in Rochester.

Rolando Rodriguez, Marcus president and CEO, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Marcus will continue to operate the new acquisitions under the Wehrenberg name.

However, when asked specifically about the Rochester location, Lindsey Weix, a Marcus spokeswoman, hedged a bit.

"The Wehrenberg brand is very strong," Weix said via email. "How the brand will be retained is still under review. At a minimum, the name will remain on theaters throughout the greater St. Louis area."

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In addition to keeping the name, Marcus will honor Wehrenberg's customer rewards program and gift certificates.

The purchase also will lead to upgrades and renovations, including reclining seats, large-format screens and improved food and beverage offerings at former Wehrenberg properties.

Again, Weix said no firm decisions on upgrades in Rochester have been made at this time, "Our strong performance is directly linked to many of the investments in our amenities and theater renovations," she said. "We will look at bringing these concepts to Wehrenberg theaters as appropriate."

Nine of the Wehrenberg cinemas are located in the St. Louis area. Rochester's Galaxy 14 is the only Wehrenberg property in Minnesota.

Marcus, meanwhile, operates theaters in La Crosse, Wis., as well as in Hastings, Rosemount, Oakdale and other cities in Minnesota. When the Wehrenberg purchase is completed, Marcus will have 68 locations, with 885 screens, in eight states.

Wehrenberg, which was founded in 1906 in St. Louis, has closed some theaters in recent years, including shuttering a 16-screen complex in Springfield, Mo., earlier this year.

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