AMC Theatres Sees Record Pandemic-Era Opening Weekend Following ‘Venom 2’ Release

AMC Entertainment Oct. 4 announced it set a new post-reopening record for weekend attendance (Thursday through Sunday), as well new post-opening records for ticket admission revenue and food and beverage sales following the theatrical bow of Sony Pictures’ Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and the latest James Bond movie, No Time to Die, overseas.

Through Oct. 3, more than 2.4 million people watched movies at domestic AMC Theatre locations. An additional more than 1.4 million moviegoers visited AMC’s theaters overseas, bringing the global total to a record 3.9 million, a new post-reopening record.

Venom 2 is the second-largest October opening in domestic box office history.

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Internationally, the success of AMC-owned Odeon Cinemas was driven by MGM’s No Time to Die, which opened to an overseas industry-wide $119 million. Daniel Craig’s reported last fling as Agent 007 also shattered various ticket sale records, including in the U.K. where Saturday ticket admissions revenue was the highest for one day of any film in the entire James Bond franchise dating back to its bow in 1962. The movie opens Oct. 8 in the United States. Venom 2 opens in Europe on Oct. 15.

“Yet again, AMC is celebrating an important milestone as we continue striving to generate a full recovery for our movie theatre business both at home and abroad,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement.

Adams said the initial success of the two new theatrical releases demonstrates a pent-up demand among moviegoers to return to movie theaters.

“To the self-proclaimed sages who routinely and mindlessly predict the demise of cinemas, it is my view that it is simply wrong to underestimate the enormous consumer appeal and resilience of movie theaters,” Aron said.

AMC Theatres Expands Cryptocurrency Use, Acceptance

AMC Theatres Sept. 16 disclosed it would expand acceptance of the controversial Internet-based currency for online ticket and concession purchases. AMC in August announced it would begin accepting Bitcoin by the end of the year.

In a social media post, CEO Adam Aron said the movie chain, the world’s largest theatrical exhibitor, would include additional forms of crypto currency. The chain also accepts Apple Pay and Google Pay.

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The chain is joining a growing number of companies receptive to alternate forms of digital payment such as cryptocurrency, which tout lower transaction fees than credit and debit cards, in addition to wider appeal among tech-savvy consumers. Critics contend that with few government controls, cryptocurrency remains a confusing and mysterious form of tender that can be fraught with risk and manipulation.

With business transactions verified and recorded by a decentralized system using cryptography, rather than by a centralized authority (i.e. U.S. Treasury), cryptocurrency uses digital ledgers, or blockchains distributed across a network of computer systems.

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.

AMC Theatres On Demand Utilizing Whip Media Platform

Software platform and data provider Whip Media Aug. 25 announced that AMC Theatres is using Whip Media’s solution for its video on demand business, AMC Theatres On Demand.

AMC Theatres On Demand offers more than 5,000 movies from every major studio and independent film distributors, available for purchase or rent.

Using Whip Media’s platform, AMC Theatres manages the end-to-end process from content management to paying studios. Whip Media drives film selection, asset ordering, pricing and merchandising, and calculating license fees due to studios and device partners, according to the company.

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“Utilizing Whip Media’s platform, allows for more collaboration leading to greater efficiencies, thus allowing us to get more value from our content,” said Nikkole Denson-Randolph, VP of content strategy and inclusive programming at AMC Theatres. “The ability to automate our VOD supply chain, and seamlessly connect to our studios and content readiness partners, provides a huge advantage and ability to drive growth in our business.”

“AMC is a true innovator in the industry for providing a premier movie-watching experience to viewers in the theater or at home,” said Carol Hanley, president of Whip Media. “We’re thrilled to have partnered with AMC to power AMC Theatres on Demand for their millions of customers and provide an infrastructure that is efficient and scalable.”

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.”

Warner Bros., AMC Theatres Agree to 45-Day Theatrical Window in 2022

AMC Entertainment Aug. 9 disclosed it has inked an agreement with Warner Bros. Pictures  for a 45-day theatrical window on the studio’s 2022 new-release movies at AMC Theatres — a shortened window similar to the studio’s existing deal with Regal Cinemas signed in April.

AMC protested last year when WarnerMedia announced it would distribute Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 theatrical slate concurrently on HBO Max. AMC had initially agreed to the concept for the studio’s initial release, Wonder Woman 1984, citing the ongoing pandemic. But the exhibitor’s tone changed when it realized the the box office/streaming strategy was more than a one-off deal.

“It’s no secret that AMC was not at all happy when Warner decided in December to take movies to the home on HBO Max simultaneously with the theatrical release,” CEO Adam Aron said on the company’s second-quarter (ended June 30) fiscal call. “Therefore, it’s especially gratifying that Warner Bros. is yet again embracing a theatrical window. It’s especially pleasing to be working so harmoniously with Warner Bros. once again.”

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Aron said the exhibitor, which struck revenue-sharing agreements with Universal Pictures to accommodate the studio’s expedited move toward retail channels, including PVOD, is in discussions with other studios.

“We actually are in active dialogue with every major studio on this very important topic,” Aron said. “We are hearing considerable support in Hollywood that an exclusive theatrical window is an important way to build big and successful movie franchises. Clearly, though, this whole subject is quite topical. It’s very much a work in progress.”

Indeed, a return to quasi normalcy resulted in AMC generating $444.7 million in revenue, up from just $18.9 million during the previous-year period when the pandemic had most domestic screens shuttered. Through six months of the fiscal year, revenue is down 38.3% to $593 million, from $960.4 million in the same period in 2020. The net loss decreased to $344 million, from $561.2 million. Through the half-year, revenue is down to $911.2 million, from $2.73 billion in 2020.

“AMC is playing on offense again,” Aron said.

AMC: 3.2 Million Moviegoers Bought Tickets Globally July 8-11 — Driven by ‘Black Widow’

AMC Theatres, the largest exhibitor in the world, July 12 announced that it once again broke its previous post-reopening weekend attendance record. For the second time in three weekends, and third time since Memorial Day weekend, AMC recorded its busiest weekend attendance numbers in the last 16 months. Approximately 3.2 million people watched movies at AMC’s domestic and international theater locations from July 8 to 11.

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The industry box office was led by Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow, which opened to an estimated $80 million for its opening weekend in North America, breaking the previous record, which was set by Universal Pictures’ F9: The Fast Saga just two weekends before. Beyond the success of Black Widow, the other nine movies in the top 10 also posted meaningful ticket sales and helped give the industry its first $100-million plus domestic box office weekend since early 2020.

Eight of the top 10 busiest theaters in the U.S. across the whole movie theater industry were AMCs. They were led by the AMC Burbank 30 complex in Burbank, Calif. AMC had more than 2.5 million U.S. moviegoers, a new post-reopening record.

Internationally, more than 650,000 people visited AMC’s theaters in Europe and the Middle East, also a post-reopening record.

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.”