By Will Robinson
March 03, 2016 at 12:00 PM EST
Vince Bucci/Getty Images

AMC Theatres announced Thursday it is going to acquire fellow theater chain Carmike Cinemas. The deal, valued at approximately $1.1 billion, makes AMC — which is itself owned by China’s Wanda Group — the largest theater chain in the U.S. and the world.

Carmike, based out of Columbus, Ga., has 2,954 total screens in “mid-level, non-urban communities.” AMC, which sat at 5,426 screens, will now own more than 600 theater locations across 45 states and Washington, D.C.

“This is a compelling transaction that brings together two great companies with complementary strengths to create substantial value for our guests and shareholders,” AMC CEO and President Adam Aron said in a statement. “AMC also gets to extend the reach of our innovative, guest-experience strategies to further transform the movie-going experience for millions of new guests.”

Regal Entertainment Group currently holds the distinction as the largest movie theater chain in the U.S., with 7,369 screens in 572 theaters over 42 states and D.C. 

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The move comes on the heels of record-breaking year at the box office: 2015 marked the first time domestic sales exceeded $11 billion.

The deal is expected to close at the end of 2016.

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