Bloomberg News

WILMINGTON, Del. - Carmike Cinemas Inc., the struggling No. 3 U.S. movie theater chain, filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal Bankruptcy Code less than a week after failing to make $9 million in interest payments to bondholders.

The company's largest unsecured creditors, according to the filing, include Bank of New York, trustee for holders of $209.3 million in bonds; Wachovia Corp. of Winston-Salem, N.C., owed $263 million in loans; and Dreamworks SKG, a movie-production company, owed $5 million for film rental.

The Columbus, Ga., chain listed $841.1 million of assets and $652.8 million of debts in its Chapter 11 petition.

Carmike executives said last week that its senior lender - identified by analysts as Wachovia - blocked payment on $9 million of interest due Aug. 1 on senior subordinated notes.

The bankruptcy filing comes after the company launched a $22 million expansion last year to acquire more theaters and upgrade its older facilities. Though box-office sales helped fuel the expansion, a dip in movie attendance this summer left Carmike in a weakened condition, theater industry experts said.

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