AMC Theatres Names Ellen Copaken VP of Growth Strategy as Chain Enters Retail Popcorn Business

AMC Theatres Feb. 9 announced a critical hire as it prepares to expand its business in the retail popcorn industry. Ellen Copaken, formally of Frito-Lay and Hostess Brands, will join AMC as the VP of growth strategy beginning Feb. 18.

In this newly created role, Copaken will lead AMC’s implementation of growth ideas related to the sale of the chain’s theater popcorn in retail stores. She will report to Mark Pearson, chief strategy officer, and will assist with other initiatives to broaden and transform the AMC brand beyond movie exhibition.

Ellen Copaken

CEO Adam Aron has previously floated the idea of selling digital movies on the company’s website and packaged-media releases in theater lobbies, in addition to entering the non-fungible token market.

“I have been vocal about our intention to innovate, grow and transform AMC’s business,” Aron said in a statement. Copaken’s executive ability, combined with her significant grocery experience, will be a vital asset to AMC as we explore and deliver on current and future opportunities.”

Copaken joins AMC with significant strategic planning, brand management and grocery experience. For the past four years she’s served as a partner at global innovation consulting firm, Sterling Rice Group, where she led client relationships and growth strategy engagements in food service, retail, consumer package goods and hospitality industries.

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Previously, she worked in leadership roles for Frito-Lay, PepsiCo and Hostess Brands in general management, innovation and brand management. During her time in the consumer-packaged goods industry, she launched dozens of new food and beverage products in grocery, retail and restaurant/food service.

Last November, AMC announced that it would begin selling its “AMC Theatres Perfectly Popcorn,” which has been available to consumers in theaters for more than a century continually since the year 1920, through four new platforms in 2022.

Beginning later this year, AMC will begin selling freshly made AMC Theatres Perfectly Popcorn at select mall retail locations around the country. Those new kiosks, counters and stores will feature real AMC movie theater popcorn and other AMC movie theater treats.

Additionally, AMC plans to make its AMC Theatres Perfectly Popcorn, freshly popped in nearby theaters, available through food delivery-to-home services. AMC will sell “To Go” packages at its theatres of freshly popped popcorn for takeout and/or pickup.

AMC is also exploring opportunities to offer prepackaged and ready-to-pop microwaveable AMC Theatres Perfectly Popcorn, in supermarkets, convenience stores and other food service venues around the country.

AMC to Sell Branded Popcorn, Concessions Outside Theaters

AMC Theatres announced plans to sell branded popcorn and other concessions at pop-up kiosks, stores and counters outside its normal theatrical footprint locations.

The retail gourmet popcorn business is currently a $2 billion annual market, according to industry estimates.

“AMC Theatres Perfectly Popcorn” will be sold to consumers pre-made or in microwave packages at select retail locations, including shopping malls, grocery stores, and convenience stores beginning in 2022. Additional retail products include movie-themed candy, Coke items and bottled water.

“The announcement … is so natural and logical, one wonders why the idea has not been tried before,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement, adding the exhibitor currently pops about 50 tons of popcorn per day.

“With this new AMC initiative, we expect to reach entirely new segments of the U.S. population,” he said. “This is an opportunity to diversify our business and to create a new revenue stream for our company.”