AMC Theatres Announces Another Key California Re-Opening

AMC Theatres Oct. 27 announced that several locations in Northern California, including San Francisco and the greater Bay Area, will resume operations beginning Friday, Oct. 30. As a result of these openings, AMC expects to have approximately 540 of its 600-theatre circuit open and serving guests by the end of the month.

Moviegoers can return to AMC Metreon 15, AMC Kabuki 8, AMC Eastridge 15, AMC Mercado 20, AMC Saratoga 14, AMC NewPark 12 and AMC Bay Street 16, as well as the all new AMC Dine-In Sunnyvale 12, a brand new theatre that will open for the first time. Upon reopening, these AMC locations will abide by all state and local ordinances.

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“The reopening of movie theatres around the country is essential to the theatrical industry and the entire entertainment ecosystem, and we thank local leaders in the Bay Area communities for allowing our guests to return to AMC,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement.

Aron said an “overwhelming majority” of state and local governments recognize the “strong” steps the chain has taken to focus on the health and safety of moviegoers and theater workers.

In areas where theatres are not yet able to open, AMC continues to have discussions with local authorities about resuming operations. AMC said would reopen its remaining theatres once authorized to do so by state and local officials.

New theatrical releases include Come Play on Oct. 30; Let Him Go on Nov. 6; Freaky on Nov. 13; The Last Vermeer on Nov. 20 and The Croods: A New Age on Nov. 25, as well as local language films in certain countries outside the U.S.

NorCal AMC Theatres Re-Openings on Oct. 30:

AMC Bay Street 16
AMC Eastridge 15
AMC Kabuki 8
AMC Mercado 20
AMC Metreon 15
AMC NewPark 12
AMC Saratoga 14
AMC DINE-IN Sunnyvale 12

AMC Theatres Says Q3 Revenue Plummeted 91%

AMC Theatres’ summer blockbuster was a no-show due to the coronavirus effectively shutting down all screens. On Oct. 20 the exhibitor disclosed the harsh fiscal reality: The nation’s largest movie chain generated just $119.5 million in revenue for the fiscal period ended Sept. 30. That was 91% less than the $1.32 billion generated during the previous-year period. Revenue year-to-date through the quarter topped $1 billion, which was down about 75% from $4 billion a year earlier.

Parent AMC Entertainment disclosed the results in a regulatory filing as it entered into an equity distribution agreement with Citigroup and Goldman Sachs to sell up to 15 million shares of Class A common stock.

Through Oct. 16, AMC had resumed operations at 519 of its 598 U.S. theaters, with limited seating capacities of between 20% and 40%, representing approximately 87% of the U.S. theatres and 80% of 2019 U.S. same-theater revenue. Since the resumption of operations in its U.S. markets, AMC has fielded more than 2.6 million moviegoers, representing a same-theater attendance decline of about 85% compared with the same period a year ago.

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AMC said the remaining 13% of the U.S. theaters left to reopen are primarily located in California, Maryland and New York, and include some of the company’s most productive theaters, representing approximately 20% of 2019 domestic revenue. As previously reported, 12 theaters in New York State are scheduled to open Oct. 23. AMC said it has an “active dialog” with local and state government officials, however there is “limited visibility” around the timing for resumption of the remaining theater operations.

As of Oct. 16, 2020, AMC had resumed operations at 309 leased and partnership international theatres, representing about 86% of the company’s international theatres and approximately 91% of 2019 international same-theater revenue. Seating capacity at the reopened international theatres remains limited to between 25% and 50% of capacity to ensure social distancing. Since the resumption of operations in its International markets June 3, AMC has entertained more than 5.7 million moviegoers, representing a same-theater attendance decline of approximately 74% compared with the same period a year ago.

To lure consumers into theaters, AMC launched “AMC Private Screening,” which allows movie goers to reserve a separate AMC auditorium for a private screening for up to 20 people, starting at $99 plus tax.

AMC Theatres Re-Opening in Key New York State Locations

Fiscally challenged AMC Theatres Oct. 19 announced that several of its locations throughout New York state will resume operations beginning Oct. 23. The re-openings are a result of the recent announcement by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, allowing movie theaters throughout much of the state to reopen following lengthy closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

New York, along with California and New Jersey, are seen as vital markets to the movie theater industry.

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About 12 AMC locations are expected to resume operations primarily in portions of Upstate New York and on Long Island. As a result of these openings, AMC expects to have approximately 530 of its 600-theater circuit open by the end of October. Beginning Oct. 23, AMC will be operating theaters in 44 of the 45 states where it has business operations.

News of the re-openings sent AMC Entertainment shares up 22% in early morning trading.

“The reopening of movie theaters around the country is essential to the theatrical industry and the entire entertainment ecosystem,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement, adding that studios are pushing back new releases without major market re-openings.

“Therefore, it is a monumental step in the right direction for our entire industry that theaters are starting to open across the state of New York,” Aron said.

The CEO said AMC continues to work closely with state and local authorities about re-openings, which Aron believes will increase confidence among moviegoers to return to cinemas.

“We continue to see state and local governments all across the United States recognize the strong steps we have taken through [our sanitation and safety protocols],” Aron said.

AMC’s clean protocols feature social distancing, mandatory mask wearing, availability of disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer, along with high-tech solutions like electrostatic sprayers, HEPA vacuums and enhanced air filtration through MERV 13 filters.

In areas where theaters are not yet able to open, Aron said AMC continues to have discussions with local authorities about resuming operations.

The re-openings are key to AMC staying in business. Parent company AMC Entertainment Oct. 13 disclosed it has only enough cash to maintain operations through the end of the year.

Liam Neeson Drama ‘Honest Thief’ Tops Another Quiet Domestic Weekend Box Office

Open Roads Films’ thriller Honest Thief, starring Liam Neeson, finished atop another subdued domestic weekend box office, generating $3.7 million in North American ticket sales Oct. 16-18. Neeson plays a burglar who turns himself in, only to be double-crossed by the FBI.

The previous week’s topper, The War With Grandpa, starring Robert De Niro, finished second with $2.5 million. The movie from 101 Studios has generated $7.3 million in 10 days. Warner Bros.’ Tenet, from director Christopher Nolan, ended third on the weekend with $1.6 million, upping its domestic theatrical take to $50.6 million.

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U.S. movie ticket sales continue to be hamstrung by coronavirus pandemic-related theater closures in key markets and social distancing protocols in cinemas operating. In addition, studios continue to push back into 2021 major new tentpole releases living operating theaters with lower profile movies and re-releases.

Indeed, Disney re-releases The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus finished fourth and fifth over the weekend with $1.3 million and $756,000 in ticket sales, respectively.

European Cinema Operators ‘Shocked’ at Movies Bypassing Theaters for Disney+

Similarly to the situation in the United States, European theater operators are reeling from studios delaying new-release movies due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), the trade group representing European exhibitors, has lashed out at Walt Disney Studios’ decision to bow Pixar Animation’s Soul on SVOD service Disney+ rather than in theaters.

“Disney’s decision to release Soul directly onto their streaming platform, depriving many audiences across Europe from seeing it on the big screen, has shocked and dismayed all cinema operators,” UNIC said in a statement.

Indeed, Soul represents the third major Disney title (after Artemis Fowl and Mulan) to forgo a theatrical release due to the pandemic. UNIC is upset since control of the pandemic is better in Europe than in the U.S., which has resulted in significantly better box office revenue.

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The vast majority of cinemas across Europe are now open and able to offer a “safe and enjoyable” return for moviegoers, according to UNIC. Like U.S. exhibitors, European operators have invested heavily in social distancing and sanitation protocols in theaters.

“Yet again, however, they find a distributor delivering another blow,” UNIC wrote. “The decision on Soul is doubly frustrating for operators who were counting on the release after the film was previewed at a number of key European film festivals.”

The trade group argues that there is compelling evidence that where moviegoers have returned, their experience was both safe and enjoyable. It also stressed that without major new releases, consumers won’t return to the big screen. Indeed, across Europe, many cinemas have since re-opening screened countless local releases, underlining the fact that first-run titles are now more important than ever.

UNIC said decisions to postpone titles, bypassing cinemas and the value they create, are extremely disappointing — and concerning — and will only delay the day that the whole industry is able to put crisis behind it.

“It is no exaggeration to say that by the time some studios decide that the moment is right to release their films, it may be too late for many European cinemas,” read the statement.

AMC Theatres Warns It Will Be Out of Cash by the End of the Year

With a delayed release slate and moviegoers wary of COVID-19, AMC Entertainment, parent to the world’s largest theatrical chain, said it will be out of cash by the end of the year or early 2021 without a renewed external infusion of funds.

Cash burn, or monthly use of cash to fund operations, is impacted by, among other things, the timing of resumption of theater operations, the timing of movie releases and the slate of future releases, theater attendance levels, landlord negotiations and minimum lease payments, costs associated with the enhanced safety and sanitation protocols, and food and beverage receipts.

“To meet its obligations as they become due, the company will require additional sources of liquidity or increases in attendance levels,” CFO Sean Goodman wrote in the Oct. 13 filing. “The required amounts of additional liquidity are expected to be material.”

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AMC said it has generated about $40 million to date selling new shares of stock, in addition to lopping off hundreds of millions of dollars owed on long-term debt.

The filing revealed what most observers already knew: The exhibition business is facing extinction if pandemic conditions remain the same and liquidity issues aren’t further addressed. And even if they are, the business realities facing theaters is dire.

“There can be no assurance that the assumptions used to estimate our liquidity requirements and future cash burn will be correct, or that we will be able to achieve more-normalized levels of attendance described above, which are materially higher than our current attendance levels, and our ability to be predictive is uncertain due to the unknown magnitude and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Goodman wrote.

The filing stands in contrast to the confidence CEO Adam Aron has been projecting in recent weeks, including boasts that AMC, unlike rival Regal Cinemas, could remain open in the current business climate due in part to its groundbreaking distribution agreement with Universal Pictures. That deal allows Universal to significantly shrink the theatrical window in exchange for sharing revenue from early transactional VOD and premium VOD releases in the home.

As of Oct. 9, AMC had resumed operations at 494 of its 598 U.S. theaters, with limited seating capacities of between 20% and 40%, representing approximately 83% of the U.S. theaters and 77% of 2019 U.S. same-theater revenue.

Since the resumption of operations in its U.S. markets, AMC said it has seen more than 2.2 million moviegoers frequent theaters, representing a same-theater attendance decline of approximately 85% compared to the same period a year ago.

The remaining 17% of the U.S. theaters left to reopen are primarily located in California, Maryland, New York, North Carolina and the state of Washington, and include some of the chain’s most productive locations, representing approximately 23% of 2019 U.S. revenue.

Twenty-five theaters in North Carolina and Washington State are scheduled to reopen Oct. 16. AMC says it has an “active dialogue” with local and state government officials in the remaining states, however, there is “limited visibility” around the timing for resumption of theatre operations in these locales.

Meanwhile, AMC’s fiscal situation not only affects employees and shareholders, but landlords as well. The company said it had resumed operations at 308 leased and partnership international theaters. This represents about 86% of its international screens and approximately 90% of 2019 international same-theater revenue. Since the resumption of operations in its International markets June 3, AMC has seen more than 5.2 million consumers return, representing a same-theater attendance decline of approximately 74% compared with the same period a year ago.

“It is very difficult to estimate our liquidity requirements and future cash burn rates, and depending on the assumptions used regarding the timing and ability to achieve more normalized levels of operating revenue, the estimates of amounts of required liquidity vary significantly,” Goodman wrote.

Micheal Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, doesn’t expect attendance levels to begin to normalize until mid-2021. He said that with 30% of moviegoers in the 50+ age group and another 30% between 30 and 50 (according to MPAA, 2018), a significant portion of moviegoers are not going to be bold enough to return to theaters without a virus vaccine. Losing a substantial portion of this demographic, and especially their children, is driving studios to delay theatrical releases.

“We think the relatively lackluster domestic box office for Tenet, juxtaposed with the seemingly tepid response to Mulan as a PVOD release, have made film releases seem like a risky business in the current environment,” Pachter wrote in a note.

AMC Theatres to Open 87% of Domestic Screens by Oct. 16

With its fiscal future on the line, AMC Entertainment, the largest theatrical exhibitor in the world, Oct. 8 announced that 14 AMC Theatres in the state of Washington will resume operations on Oct. 16. Washington is among 45 U.S. states in which AMC Theatres will have screens open for moviegoers.

Following re-openings in California, Michigan and North Carolina, AMC expects to have more than 520 of its approximately 600 theaters operating within eight days.

In areas where theaters are not yet able to open, AMC said it would continue to have discussions with local authorities about resuming operations. AMC will reopen its remaining theatrical footprint once authorized to do so by state and local officials.

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CEO Adam Aron, in a statement, reiterated the sanitation safety protocols AMC has embraced to assure moviegoers are safe as possible during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The feedback we’ve received from our guests indicate that our policies and protocols are working exactly as intended,” Aron said. “We’re seeing record-high guest scores for the cleanliness of our theaters, far exceeding the marks we’ve received in the decades we’ve been tracking guest feedback.”

With studios pushing releases of most major titles until 2021 or beyond, how long exhibitors can ride out the COVID-19 storm remains to be seen. Regal Cinemas, the No. 2 chain in the country, is set to re-shutter all U.S. and U.K. screens for the foreseeable future, beginning today.

Director Patty Jenkins, whose $200 million production Wonder Woman 1984 is still set to release on Christmas Day — following three previous delays — contends the exhibition business model is facing extinction.

“This will not be a reversible process. We could lose movie theater-going forever,” Jenkins told Reuters.

Meanwhile, returning AMC moviegoers can expect to see new releases such as The War With Grandpa, starring Robert De Niro, and Yellow Rose, which open Oct. 9 in the United States. Other pending titles include Honest Thief and 2 Hearts on Oct. 16, The Empty Man on Oct. 23, Come Play on Oct. 30, Let Him Go on Nov. 6, Freaky and The Comeback Trail on Nov. 13, Soul on Nov. 20, and The Croods: A New Age and Happiest Season on Nov. 25, as well as local-language films in certain countries outside the United States.

Ventura County, Calif., Authorizes Re-Opening Movie Theaters on Oct. 9

Movie theaters may still be a no-go in Los Angeles County, but elsewhere the re-opening of select screens throughout California continues, albeit slowly. Ventura County, just north of Los Angeles County, is the latest county in the state to approve the reopening of movie theaters.

AMC Theatres Oct. 7 announced that following recent approval by Ventura County officials, the exhibitor will reopen AMC Dine-In Thousand Oaks 14 on Oct. 9. In addition to reserved seating, moviegoers can place food orders from an expanded menu in the lobby, and then head into their auditorium where their food is delivered to their recliner seats.

During the first three Fridays in October, AMC plans to resume operations at approximately 40 locations in California, North Carolina and Michigan. Beginning Oct. 16, more than 500 AMC locations will be serving guests.

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In areas where theaters are not yet able to open, AMC said it continues to have discussions with local authorities about resuming operations. AMC will reopen all remaining theaters once authorized to do so by state and local officials.

New titles coming to theaters include The War With Grandpa, starring Robert De Niro, and Yellow Rose, which open Oct. 9 in the U.S. Other pending titles include Honest Thief and 2 Hearts on Oct. 16, The Empty Man on Oct. 23, Come Play on Oct. 30, Let Him Go on Nov. 6, Freaky and The Comeback Trail on Nov. 13, Soul on Nov. 20 and The Croods: A New Age and Happiest Season on Nov. 25, as well as local-language films in certain countries outside the U.S.

“It’s encouraging that we continue to make progress opening theaters in California and in the key Los Angeles area market,” AMC CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “We continue to reopen responsibly.”

AMC Theatres Tops 4 Million Global Attendance Since Re-Opening

AMC Entertainment Sept. 9 announced that attendance at its domestic screens topped 1 million moviegoers through Sept. 8 — less than three weeks after re-opening 70% of its theaters in the United States with seating capacity restrictions of between 25% and 40% of the maximum capacity. The tally tops 4 million when factoring in AMC’s global exhibitor locations. The news sent AMC shares up 5.1% in premarket trading.

AMC, along with other exhibitors globally, have been shuttered since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

AMC also announced that in surveys of returning moviegoers domestically, cleanliness hit all-time highs, considerably beating by a wide margin all previous theater cleanliness scores, which have been tracked by AMC via surveys for decades. AMC attributed this marked rise in cleanliness to its new sanitation protocols. Social distancing, mandatory mask wearing, the easy availability of disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer, high tech solutions like electrostatic sprayers and numerous other new safety and cleanliness procedures were in full swing all across U.S. theaters.

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Approximately 70% of AMC’s U.S. theater circuit was open for business during the Labor Day holiday weekend, with more theaters opening around the country during September. This week more than 30 AMC theaters in New Jersey, Maryland, and Orange County, Calif., will reopen.

“We are greatly encouraged that during the last few weeks as theaters have started to reopen, moviegoers have already returned to AMC,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “After a five-month closure in the United States, the movie theatre industry is finally now starting on its way back.”

AMC Entertainment Selling Baltic Theaters

Cash-strapped AMC Entertainment Aug. 31 announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to sell nine theatre locations (67 screens) in the Baltic region (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) for €65 million ($77 million).

The agreement calls for AMC to receive approximately half of the sale proceeds on signing and the balance upon closing in each country after antitrust resolution in the coming months.

The world’s largest exhibitor with about 1,000 screens is slowly trying to return to normal operations after shuttering all theaters in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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“This transaction marks yet [more] decisive action taken, on the heels of our capital raising in April and debt restructuring and capital raising in July, to bolster our liquidity and strengthen our balance sheet…that underscores the inherent value of our theatre portfolio and resilience of our business,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement.

Aron said he remains “encouraged” by attendance levels at re-opened screens in Europe and in the U.S., where almost 300 theaters are currently open for business.

Indeed, Warner Bros.’ much-hyped Christopher Nolan movie Tenet generated $53 million in ticket sales Aug. 26-30 across 41 theatrical markets outside the U.S. and China. The film opens in the world’s largest two markets next weekend.

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“Growing consumer confidence in our cleaning and safety protocols continues to generate increased attendance and food and beverage spend, and we look forward to offering a full slate of new and entertaining film product to further drive attendance over the remainder of 2020,” Aron said.

Media analyst Michael Pachter with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, said the sale could help AMC reduce its long-term debt load to $4.8 billion, compared with $5.1 billion in the most-recent fiscal quarter.

With its recent debt restructuring, AMC has significantly improved its debt position, while also reducing its cash outlay by [upwards of] $180 million in the next six to eight quarters,” Pachter wrote in a note. “Collectively, these moves have effectively positioned the company to survive through extended closures in its domestic markets.”