BREAKING NEWS! EXCLUSIVE!

rave na6:30 PM UPDATE: Now I’ve learned Rave Motion Pictures is buying 35 theatre complexes from National Amusement, and that the two companies have signed a definitive agreement. My sources think the deal should close in the next 2 weeks. Financing is being provided by Tower Brook Capital Partners, the hedge fund. There still is no official confirmation on this.

5:55 PM: If the advanced talks result in a deal, it would make Rave Motion Pictures the 5th largest exhibitor. The Dallas-based privately held theater circuit has 30 locations and 475 screens located in 14 states, sumner dollarand is now the biggest U.S. exhibition chain to have 100% state-of-the-art digital projection. As you know, Norwood, Massachusetts-based National Amusements is a closely-held company controlled by Viacom chief Sumner Redstone. Its assets include more than 1,500 motion picture screens in the U.S., U.K., Latin America and Russia. The deal being talked about, according to my sources, calls for Rave to acquire half of National Amusements’ theatre locations. Redstone put the theaters out for bid to help pay off his family business’ $1.46 billion debt incurred during the financial crisis. Then, after some fancy financial maneuvering, He planned to hold onto the bulk of National Amusements’ movie-theater chain except for selling 35 U.S. theaters outside of its core business in the Northeast. So it remains to be seen exactly where and what Rave is buying. “NA has some wonderful theatre complexes and then it has some pretty mediocre theatre complexes. When the auction was going on nobody really wanted the mediocre complexes,” one source told me today. “So if Rave is buying the mediocre complexes to ratchet up its digital cinema expansion, then its not a major transaction. On the other hand, if they are buying some meaningful complexes, then it’s a newsworthy transaction.” Rave is considered a very well run theatre operation with a respected management team. But the company is very leveraged, and at one point it was going to merge with the Landmark theatre circuit. “I’m just mystified as to how Rave can pull off the financing,” one of my sources stressed about any Rave/NA arrangement. Yet multiple sources are telling me there already may be a deal with an announcement coming as soon as this week. We shall see…