In Arizona, Plans and Construction for New Movie Theaters

High growth in Southwest as movie theater companies expand

But Marcus expects to invest heavily in the next couple of years in modernizing Cinema Entertainment's assets as well as its own theaters.

"We're putting in new lobbies and concession stands and adding upscale finishes like tile and hardwoods in many of our locations," says Carlo W. Petrick, a Marcus spokesman. "We think it's important to ensure that our existing locations are competitive."

Nevertheless, Robert Damron, an analyst with 21st Century Equity Research in Milwaukee who follows the fortunes of Marcus, thinks the company can modernize existing units while boosting its new construction program at the same time.

"Marcus and the rest of the movie industry went through a soft patch a few years ago, but now it appears that trends are turning positive again," Damron says. "Marcus has become re-energized about its prospects."

Lee Murphy is a Chicago-based writer.