Two beloved area movie theaters have been adopted by a new corporate parent.

The Bridge theater in West Philadelphia and the Showcase at the Ritz in Voorhees, along with 27 other multiplexes nationwide, were acquired Monday from National Amusements Inc. by Dallas-based Rave Motion Pictures for an undisclosed sum.

The transaction stands to double the size of the Texas boutique chain, which, after the deal closes, will own or manage 65 theaters and 1,000 screens in 20 major markets.

The sale was initiated by media mogul Sumner Redstone, chief of Viacom (owner of Paramount Pictures), who announced in the fall that he was seeking to retire a $1.4 billion debt owed to its lenders by National Amusements, the core family business founded in 1936 by Redstone's father.

The six-screen Bridge, initially conceived as an art-film destination by Robert Redford and Sundance Cinemas, is leased from the University of Pennsylvania. Since its opening in 2002, the Bridge has operated as a mainstream venue by National Amusements, which transferred its lease to Rave.

Showcase at the Ritz/NJ opened in 1996 as the jewel in the crown of the Ritz theaters' impresario, Ramon Posel. The 16-screen house opened with a program of art movies and an over-16 admissions policy, beloved by regulars, but that changed when National Amusements acquired it in 2007. Since then, the theater has admitted children, and about three-quarters of its offerings have been mainstream films.

"It is our intention to maintain the art-film program" at the Showcase, Rave spokesman Jeremy Devine said yesterday. "We do not anticipate a theater name change, other than Rave branding at some point in the future."

Contact movie critic Carrie Rickey at 215-854-5402 or crickey@phillynews.com. Read her blog, "Flickgrrl," at http://www.philly.com/philly/
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