Update January 31st, 2003: koreykruse
was kind enough to point out to me that "Loews Corporation still exists as its own company. They only sold off their theatre operations. They still own a large insurance company and they own the 4th largest tobacco company in the US."
To be honest I was only familiar with the theater portion of their business, because I used to work for them about two decades ago. If there's anyone who would like to expand further on this node, I would not be offended. =)
Known today perhaps better as Loews Cineplex Entertainment or more specifically Sony Loews now that Sony owns them. However, historically it is known simply as Loews; a network of movie theaters that has spanned North America through the majority of the 20th century.
Loews was originally founded in 1904 by Marcus Loew. Originally it was just one nickelodeon but in less than two decades quickly grew to a number of buildings specifically designed to show the greatest works of the silent film era. Marcus Loew discovered a failing silent movie production studio named Metro Company, and turned it into a success. In 1924, Loew went into a partnership with Louis B. Mayer and Samuel Goldwyn to form the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio, aka MGM. He was able to explain to his (until then) competition, that if they made the product, he could present it to the public. Between the three countries, they had an incredible edge over other smaller movie companies and theater chains. Five years later, MGM was one of the few movie making corporate entities with the financial reserves and moxie to survive The Great Depression.
MGM was one of a very select few: powerful entities in Hollywood able to both create and distribute their own works. The Loews theater chain had an agreement with MGM to give them the best screens in the majority of the major cities. This forced others like Paramount and Warner Brothers out of some markets, and raised the stakes of what the movie business was really all about: money. Things got out of hand and in 1954, the United States Department of Justice stepped in and demanded the industry be redesigned to allow fair competition between the large monolithic corporations and smaller companies. They ordered MGM separate itself officially from the theaters it owned through Loews, and so the Loews Theater chain continued again on its own, and it enjoyed thirty years of growing success and posterity. Between the years of 1985 and 1989 alone, it literally doubled its size. However, a lot of this was due to wheeling and dealing and selling off parts of itself to merge with other companies, and renegotiate with others. Loews Theatres merged with the Cineplex Odeon Corporation in 1998. It is also a co-venture partner in Magic Johnson Theatres and Star Theatres.
Today it owns and operates close to three thousand screens continent-wide. It also has agreements and co-partnerships with other corporate entities overseas. In fact in its own way, it has become even more powerful than MGM was a half century ago.