The nation’s second-largest seller of movie advertising is expected to change hands this summer, The Post has learned.
Investment bank Moelis & Co. has been tapped to explore a possible sale of movie-house ad firm Screenvision, just a year and a half after the Justice Department filed suit to block its merger with its bigger rival National Cinemedia, sources said.
Private-equity firm Shamrock Capital acquired a 50-percent stake in Screenvision for $80 million in 2010. The owners are expecting offers will be well in excess of the $375 million that publicly traded National Cinemedia had offered two years earlier in a merger deal that was thwarted by the government.
Sources say there has been interest from other private-equity firms both in the US and in Asia. China’s Wanda acquired theater chain AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion in 2012.
Shamrock’s timing couldn’t be better. The box office has been on fire of late, as theaters booked a record $11.17 billion in box office sales in 2016. The prior year was also a record-breaker at $11.14 billion.
The summer movie season, when the box office books most of its business, just opened with Buena Vista’s “Guardians of the Galaxy 2,” taking in $146.5 million on its first weekend. Fox’s “Alien: Covenant,” is opening this weekend with expectations for up to $50 million in ticket sales, while DC Comics’ “Wonder Woman,” starring Gal Galdot, opening June 2, is tracking for a stellar $65 million opening.
Scrolling its spots during the minutes ahead of feature presentations, the movie ad sector was worth some $758 million in 2016, a 5.8 percent jump on the prior year, according to data released in March by the Cinema Advertising Council.
The Screenvision-National Cinemedia merger got torpedoed by the Justice Department, which filed an antitrust lawsuit on Nov. 3, 2014, arguing that the sector would be dominated by one firm, hurting the theater owners’ ability to share in the ad revenue.
After the merger fell apart, Screenvision hired former ad agency boss John Partilla to lead its sales efforts. Partilla has tried to tap some of the $70 billion in TV ad sales by emphasizing the millennial profile of moviegoers.
Shamrock Capital has stakes in other media and advertising firms including fantasy football player FanDuel and ad firm Giant.
Screenvision revenue is believed to be approaching $200 million, sources told The Post. Profitability leapt 50 percent over the past 18 months, according to one person close to the company.
Screenvision, which held its upfront presentation for advertisers on May 12, has attracted more ad revenue from the likes of Apple, Verizon and Samsung among others while Partilla has spearheaded “connected cinema” campaigns such as two-way gaming efforts ahead of movies to increase sponsorship revenue.
Theaters typically begin their own programming around 15 minutes before the trailers start playing.
Screenvision sells ads on 14,600 screens in 90…