Sydney-based Pacific Equity Partners is negotiating to sell the Hoyts chain - with 483 screens in Australia and New Zealand - to ID Leisure International Capital.
It is not clear yet if the sale, which is understood to be possible by the end of the year, will mean a change to the name or look of the cinemas.
The company could not be reached for comment, but negotiations are understood to be advanced.
Hoyts has had a colourful history under previous owner Kerry Packer and private equity firm PEP has been looking for a buyer for more than four years.
Hoyts has sold its film distribution division and digitised many of its cinemas, bringing big savings to its New Zealand operations.
A sale to ID Leisure would mark the end of PEP's seven-year investment in Hoyts, which it bought in 2007 for $A440 million.
PEP had assets valued at A$900 million in preparation for a float, which was shelved this year because of volatility in equity markets, turning the company back towards interested trade investors.
Hoyts' highest-profile asset in Auckland is the complex at the Sylvia Park shopping mall. It also has cinemas in Hamilton and is the market leader in Christchurch, where it has multiplexes at the Riccarton and Northland malls.
Hoyts is chaired by former All Black David Kirk. It bought Berkeley Cinemas in Mission Bay and Takapuna in 2010 from cinema entrepreneur Barrie Everard.
It is the region's second-largest cinema operator, with over 420 screens across 42 cinema complexes in Australia and a further 10 complexes with 63 screens in New Zealand.
Hoyts also operates Val Morgan, the largest provider of cinema advertising in Australia and New Zealand, which it claims has approximately 95 per cent market share across both countries.
Hoyts' development of the Sylvia Park multiplex boosted its market share in Auckland but the city remains dominated by Event Cinemas, owned by ASX-listed entertainment company AHL.
In 2009 AHL bought cinemas at 12 sites with 93 screens in Auckland, Hamilton and Lower Hutt.
The Event chain has bought two multiplexes in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui with 14 screens. The cinemas owned by Bay City Cinemas have been among a diminishing number of independent cinemas.
The other cinema operator in this country is US-owned Reading Cinemas, with screens in Rotorua, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Invercargill, Queenstown and Dunedin.