AMC Theatres Hires Nicole Kidman in $25 Million Marketing Campaign

AMC Entertainment has hired Nicole Kidman as its pitchperson in a $25 million marketing campaign aimed at jumpstarting moviegoer interest in returning to enjoy the theatrical experience.

The 15-, 30- and 60-second “We Make Movies Better” spots  feature Kidman encouraging people to return to the cineplex and relive box office magic.

“As we have said repeatedly of late, thanks to the billions of dollars we have raised this year, AMC is strong, and it is time for AMC to play on offense again,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement.

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The price of the marketing campaign is noteworthy considering AMC a year ago was on the brink of bankruptcy as its screens and others remained largely shuttered due to the pandemic.

Following the record $90 million domestic Labor Day box office for Marvel Cinematic Universe release Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, AMC is spreading its wings.

AMC Theatres Sets Labor Day Ticket Sales Record

The fiscal largess from Disney’s $90 million Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opening weekend box office continues to spread throughout the Hollywood food chain.

World’s largest exhibitor AMC Theatres Sept. 7 announced a new Labor Day admissions-revenue record, eclipsing the previous admissions record set during Labor Day weekend in 2013. In addition to the revenue record, the Labor Day weekend marks the first time since the beginning of COVID that attendance during a weekend in 2021 exceeded the same weekend in pre-pandemic 2019.

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More than 2 million people watched movies at AMC’s domestic screens Sept. 2-5. More than 800,000 additional moviegoers visited AMC’s international theaters in Europe and the Middle East.

Shang-Chi opened to a reported $90 million for its domestic opening weekend Sept. 3-6. This is approximately triple the previous Labor Day opening weekend record of $30.6 million set by Rob Zombie’s Halloween in 2007.

“For two overarching reasons, this Labor Day weekend in the United States has been an important milestone for AMC as we steadily work to generate a recovery for our business,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “This is the very first weekend that our attendance numbers were ahead of those of the same weekend pre-pandemic, since we closed our theaters in March of 2020.”

Aron added he was glad Disney opted for a theatrical window versus the hybrid Premier Access/box office distribution model employed for Jungle Cruise and Black Widow. Critics contend Disney undermined the Black Widow box office by concurrently releasing the Marvel movie on PVOD. The film’s star, Scarlett Johansson, is suing Disney alleging the hybrid release strategy undermined her potential financial compensation — reportedly as high as $100 million.

CEO: AMC Theatres Open to All Business Ideas

NEWS ANALYSIS — Following a second-quarter fiscal report that saw just 45% (22 million) of AMC Theatres’ moviegoing traffic return compared with the same period in pre-pandemic 2019, CEO Adam Aron is open to discussions with just about any potential business partner to bring customers back to the cinema.

Aron he wants customers in his theater seats consuming just about anything on the screen. That mindset was clear on the Aug. 9 fiscal call where Aron revealed the world’s largest exhibitor would begin accepting cryptocurrency as payment in its theaters by the end of the year.

“We are simultaneously writing the code right now to accept Apple Pay and Google Pay for online purchases at our U.S. theaters,” Aron said.

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Back in 2019, when Disney led all studios with $11 billion in box office revenue, Aron said the chain would begin selling movie DVDs (i.e. Frozen) in theater lobbies. It’s an idea that never left the launch pad with the arrival of COVID-19, among other issues.

AMC had a net loss of $344 million on revenue of $444.7 million in Q2. The company has about $1.8 billion in cash after raising 66% of that from equity sales in the first quarter. The chain needs revenue drivers. And Aron said he would entertain any idea that could make that happen. He said the company even considered investing in drive-in theaters during the height of the pandemic.

“We came to the conclusion that they’re a bad economic idea,” Aron confessed. “It sounds appealing, yes, to your stay in your car, but there are two problems: Go into a parking lot and look at how much asphalt is needed to park cars on a lot. The viewing experience at a drive-in theater is not necessarily great, because many people are quite far from the screen.”

And so died the AMC Drive-In.

On the call, Aron was asked whether AMC would consider partnering with video game retailer GameStop offering expanded in-theater “experiences” with local and national gaming competitions. The president of Epic Games is a member of AMC’s board of directors.

“I cannot even count the number of times that our shareholders have asked us to reach out and partner with GameStop,” Aron said. “We’re on the case, more to come.”

For Aron, that’s just scratching the surface. The chain is considering screening musical concert movies, professional sporting events and e-sports, among other attractions.

“Wasting no time, we’ve immediately started to implement these very good ideas,” Aron said. “Our first two UFC matchups, which were in July, drew significant attendance to our theaters.”

AMC’s first two concert movies, with Chance the Rapper, and Halsey, will show on screens across the country later this month.

“We’re quite optimistic that this alternative programming can be built into a real revenue opportunity for AMC in future years, and we’re chasing it hard,” Aron said. “We also hope to engage in meaningful dialog with professional sports leagues and collegiate sports conferences to see if we can obtain the rights to show more sporting events at our theaters.”

AMC Theatres Posts Biggest Opening Weekend Since 2019

AMC Theatres, the largest theatrical exhibitor in the world, June 28 reported it attracted its most opening-weekend moviegoers since 2019, thanks to the U.S. debut of Universal Pictures’ F9: The Fast Saga, as well as other movies also currently playing at its theaters.

AMC said about 2 million people watched movies at domestic screens from June 24 to 27. These are the biggest numbers recorded by AMC in the U.S. since closing its theaters in March of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

F9 opened to an estimated $70 million in ticket sales, shattering the previous post-reopening record. In fact, the tally is the biggest opening weekend for any movie in the U.S. since late in 2019. The total global box office for F9 exceeds $400 million.

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Six of the Top 10 busiest theaters in the U.S. across the whole movie theater industry were AMC’s. They were led by the AMC Burbank complex and Universal Cinema AMC at CityWalk Hollywood, which also were the top two movie theatre locations in the entire country.

More than 500,000 additional people visited AMC’s international theaters in Europe and the Middle East, also a post-reopening record, bringing the total global attendance at AMC’s theaters at home and abroad this past weekend to an encouraging 2.5 million.

“The big screen is back,” Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theatres, said in a statement. “We salute our friends and partners at Universal Pictures following their post-reopening record-setting performance.”

Aron said the combination of widespread vaccinations and the release once again blockbuster movies is proving to be the “magic formula” for the return of moviegoing.

“We could not be more excited about this post-reopening record weekend, and the coming slate of what look to be more blockbuster movies being released this summer and beyond,” Aron said.

AMC Entertainment Looking to Acquire Former Arclight Cinemas, Pacific Theatres Leases; Sells $230.5 Million Worth of Shares to Private Equity Group

AMC Entertainment, corporate parent of AMC Theatres, June 1 announced it has entered into an agreement to raise $230.5 million of cash from the sale of 8.5 million shares of Class A Common stock to Mudrick Capital Management. The equity, which represents about 1.7% of AMC’s outstanding stock, was raised at a price of about $27.12 per share.

AMC said the cash proceeds from the sale would be used to acquire third-party theater leases and enhance the consumer appeal of existing theaters. In addition, AMC said it also intends to use the cash for “deleveraging” opportunities, or the reduction of debt.

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“AMC is being presented with highly attractive theater acquisition opportunities,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “We are in discussions with multiple landlords of superb theaters formerly operated by Arclight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres [in Los Angeles]. With our increased liquidity, an increasingly vaccinated population and the imminent release of blockbuster new movie titles, it is time for AMC to go on the offense again.”

Chinese Wanda Group Exits AMC Theatres Ownership

Dalian Wanda Group, the multi-industry Chinese company that acquired AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion in 2012, has quietly liquidated most of its shares in the world’s largest theatrical exhibitor.

Wanda America Entertainment May 21 in a regulatory filing disclosed reducing its AMC stake to stake to 0.002% — down from 6.8% in early April. The company has been reducing its shares as the pandemic continued undermining much of the exhibitor business worldwide through closures, limited movies from studios and reduced seating capacity, among other issues.

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In addition, Wanda saw its shares in AMC further diluted earlier this month when the exhibitor sold 43 million shares to institutional investors, raising $428 million in new equity funding in the process.

“Wanda has been a terrific shareholder of AMC for almost a decade,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “Under their ownership, AMC became the biggest movie theater operator in the world. Importantly, Wanda also has supported our reinvesting billions of dollars to upgrade and enhance our network of theaters for the benefit of moviegoers throughout the United States, Europe and the Middle East. I salute Wanda for the immensely constructive role they played in building our company, and want to express my sincerest appreciation and affection for their wise counsel and friendship.”

Interestingly, AMC shares are up more than 470% this year largely due to individual day traders crowdsourcing moves on the exhibitor, and separately video game retailer GameStop, via Reddit forums.

 

AMC Theater Chain Draws 6.8 Million Q1 Moviegoers, Narrows Loss

AMC Entertainment, parent of the world’s largest theatrical chain, AMC Theatres, May 6 reported that 6.8 million moviegoers worldwide frequented its screens in the first quarter (ended March 31). While that’s a 89% drop from 60+ million moviegoers in the same quarter a year ago, it’s a positive re-start for a company that has had scant new movie releases, and many observers left for dead during the height of the pandemic.

Adam Aron

Operating at 15% to 60% seating capacity across 585 domestic theaters, AMC operated an additional 97 international leased and partnership theaters, with limited seating capacities, representing approximately 27% of international theaters.

Revenue plummeted 84% to $148.3 million, from $941 million in the previous-year period. Net loss narrowed to $567.2 million from more than $2.1 billion a year ago.

“We finally can now say that we are looking at an increasingly favorable environment for moviegoing and for AMC as a company over the coming few months,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “This is the result of a successful and steadily growing vaccination program in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East — especially so across the United States.”

Over the past five months, AMC has raised around $2 billion in fresh equity and debt capital, including the conversion of $600 million of convertible notes into equity at a price of $13.51 per share. Over the past 13 months, AMC raised approximately $2.9 billion of cash proceeds from new debt and
equity capital, secured $1.2 billion of concessions from lenders and landlords, obtained more than $150 million of assistance from European governments, and generated more than $80 million from asset sales.

“Taken together, we have made well more than $4 billion of progress from our implementing a myriad of capital actions to help us make it through this global storm,” Aron said.

AMC CEO Aron: ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ Quintupled 2021 Revenue in Five Days; Says Studios Moving Back to Shorter Theatrical Window

Warner Bros./Legendary Entertainment’s Godzilla vs. Kong opening box office in the U.S. continues to resonate throughout the industry. The actioner generated $48.5 million across five days, sending its global haul near $300 million. For AMC Theatres, the world’s largest exhibitor, the clash of cinematic monsters has been a godsend.

“If you look at our opening performance from Wednesday to Sunday, our business at AMC was five times, quintuple, what we have done in all the weekends before that in 2021,” AMC CEO Adam Aron told Fox Business Network’s “The Claman Countdown.”

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With daily vaccinations in the U.S. rising exponentially, Aron was told that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s infectious diseases expert, had told a separate podcast that at current vaccination levels, movie theaters could be operating at full capacity by the end of the year.

“Well, obviously, we’re so excited when we can lift capacity caps, when we can take masks off,” Aron said. “We’re keeping our 50% capacity caps in place. We’re keeping mask-wearing for now. And we are going to run our theaters this summer with the tightest safety standards we can.”

Aron said more than 10 million moviegoers have frequented AMC Theatres in the past several months, and he hasn’t heard of one documented case of the coronavirus being transmitted in AMC theaters.

“That’s very good news that our safety protocols are working,” he said.

With Disney slated to launch Cruella and Black Widow in theaters and on Disney+ (for a $29.99 add-on price) concurrently on May 28 and July 9, respectively, Aron was asked if the exhibitor has come to a distribution agreement with the Magical Kingdom.

Aron said Hollywood studios are re-thinking their simultaneous theatrical/streaming movie debuts, with Warner set to return to a shortened window (45 days, according to Aron) in 2022. The studio is releasing all 2021 theatrical titles concurrently on the HBO Max SVOD service. Universal Pictures has a revenue-sharing deal with AMC that enables it distribute movies into consumer homes 17 days after their box office debut depending on ticket sales.

“Universal, who’s a big advocate for this simultaneous release on the same day at home that movies hit theaters — they abandoned that concept,” Aron said. “I have every expectation that we will find a happy middle ground with Disney that’s good for Disney shareholders and good for AMC shareholders too.”

AMC Theatres CEO Open to Concurrent Streaming Windows — Depending on Fiscal Terms

It’s not often the CEO of a company that lost $946 million in its most-recent fiscal quarter, and $4.6 billion for the fiscal year, is giddy with excitement. Nor is it common to hear the same executive say he’s not opposed to concurrent streaming/theatrical distribution.

But it was all there in virtual color on AMC Entertainment’s March 10 fiscal call spearheaded by CEO Adam Aron.

When asked about Disney, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures’ efforts to shorten the theatrical window for specific titles and slates of movies, Aron said change and thinking outside the box has been part of AMC’s DNA for years. He recalled signing onto the 2016 concept, dubbed “Screening Room,” from Napster founder Sean Parker that would have made new-release movies available in consumer homes concurrently with their theatrical launches.

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“That never took off … but over the past several years, [we have] indicated in private conversations with every major studio that we were willing to be the most experimental movie circuit around with respect to windows strategies that were different than the traditional norm,” Aron said.

But with change and experimentation, the executive stressed there always had to be a positive for AMC and its shareholders; not just the studios.

“When we couldn’t strike deals with studios on shorter windows, we resisted them with all of our might,” Aron said. “This is an area I feel very good about.”

He recalled the exhibitor’s very public 90-day letter writing campaign with Universal Pictures that resulted in a landmark agreement enabling the studio to distribute theatrical titles directly into homes within 17 days of their box office debut, depending on ticket sales.

“It suggested there were alternate ways of distribution,” Aron said.

Fast-forward to Warner’s HBO Max announcement that the studio would release its entire 2021 theatrical slate simultaneously on WarnerMedia’s upstart subscription streaming video platform.

“We put out a very clear statement: That we were not willing to let Warner advantage its streaming service at AMC shareholder’s expense,” Aron said.

Yet, it doesn’t take a sleuth to notice that AMC is screening Warner Bros. movies such as Judas and the Black Messiah and Tom & Jerry — both of which are also streaming on Max.

“You should probably assume that if we’re playing Warner Bros. movies, we came to an agreement with the studio that benefits our shareholders,” Aron said without elaborating.

The executive said AMC is willing to engage with every major studio on the same topic, arguing that since the exhibitor has been business partners with all the major studios for decades, it can adjust business relationships.

“They can support their streaming services and theatrical leases, and do so not at our expense,” Aron said, adding that discussions with studios where the window policy has changed, “we think we have come out ahead and not behind.”

Separately, as of March 5, about 90% of AMC Theatres domestic screens were open. The exhibitor is slated to re-open screens in Alameda, Calif., which includes Oakland and East Bay on March 12, with a possible reboot in SoCal possibly by March 19.

To put the magnitude of a Los Angeles market re-opening into perspective, the “designated market area” is about double the size of the NY City market. Indeed, almost 33% of all AMC domestic movie viewing dollars is generated in just four states: California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. AMC permanently closed 60 underperforming theaters, including 48 domestically and 12 internationally in 2020.

“The New York re-opening is a harbinger of things to come,” Aron said. “We are like La Guardia Airport closed by a thunderstorm with tons of planes circling above, all waiting to land and all needing to land.”

The executive said the week will mark the 100th million vaccination in arm nationwide, with another 60 million to 90 million injections scheduled monthly.

“The real salvation of our company will be because of vaccinations,” Aron said, adding that in his eyes, the most important person in the entire movie business is Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer.

“He and his talented colleagues, and those of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are who have given us our new fortitude,” Aron said, adding he had the privilege of thanking Albert firsthand for saving AMC.

“And those sentiments of thanks were never more deserved,” he said.

 

AMC Theatres Posts $4.58 Billion Fiscal Loss in 2020

There was only one fiscal winner at AMC Theatres in 2020: CEO Adam Aron. As expected, the world’s largest movie exhibitor March 10 reported a $4.58 billion loss for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2020. The chain, which has been operating about 67% of its domestic screens with government-mandated limited seating capacity limited to 20% to 40% due to the pandemic, lost $946.1 million in the fourth quarter, despite reporting attendance of more 8 million moviegoers worldwide in the quarter.

Revenue for the quarter dropped 89% to $162.5 million from $1.45 billion in the previous-year period. For the year, revenue tumbled 77% to $1.24 billion, from $5.5 billion.

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AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron

“This past year has presented AMC with the most challenging
market conditions in the 100-year history of the company,” Aron said in a statement. “As unprecedented as these times have been, so too is the unprecedented drive and commitment of the AMC team to take swift and decisive actions to ensure our survival and our success.”

Indeed, despite partial re-openings, attendance in the quarter plummeted 91% to 8 million, from 92.5 million in the previous-year period. For the fiscal year, attendance fell 79% to 75.1 million, from 356.4 million in 2019.

Aron, who saw his total 2020 compensation double to $20.9 million, which included $5 million in bonuses, said better days are just around the corner for exhibitors.

“As we sit here today, we see that vaccinations are occurring in the U.S. at a brisk clip, our theaters in New York City have finally opened, with theaters in Los Angeles likely opening shortly as well, blockbuster movie titles are currently scheduled to be released in significant quantity in the coming few months, and we have more than $1 billion of cash on hand,” Aron said. “Taking these facts together, we have reason to be optimistic about AMC’s ability to get to the other side of this pandemic.”