For example, in Palm Beach County alone, six multi-screencinemas have shuttered within the past year. Others may bethreatened by Muvico's soon-to-open 20-screen house at CityPlace indowntown West Palm Beach.

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Moreover, what is said to be the overscreening of America maygrow worse as excessive expansion undermines the financialstability of sizable exhibitors, say industry watchers.

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"Theater owners who go bankrupt can cancel leases," Beth Azor,president of retail specialists Terranova Corp. in Miami, tellsGlobeSt.com. "Older multiplexes are often in shopping centers andthere could be a glut of hard-to-fill footage. We're talking aboutlarge spaces that would be costly to convert for say big-boxretailers." Azor has heard estimates of as much as $300,000 toconvert a typical multiplex.

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The list of suffering operators is growing. Carmike, thecountry's third largest movie-theater group, has filed for Chapter11 bankruptcy protection. Regal Cinemas, the biggest chain, hadnearly $30 million of second-quarter losses or four times what itlost in the same three months of 1999.

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General Cinema, with seven locations in the region, previouslyannounced it may leave as part of a plan to concentrate operationsin the Midwest and Northeast where it has a stronger presence. EvenMuvico seems to be cannibalizing itself. When it opened the new20-screen facility in Boca Raton, it closed an eight-screenlocation elsewhere in this city.

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