Another piece of pre-pandemic life came back online today, with AMC Entertainment reopening the doors to 100 movie theaters across the country that have sat vacant for months after COVID-19 triggered sweeping lockdown measures.
The reopening coincides with the 100th anniversary of the launch of the chain, which opened its first theater on Aug. 20, 1920 at the corner of 12th Street and Grand Boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri.
To mark the occasion, AMC has slashed ticket prices for the day all the way down to the admission price moviegoers paid a century ago: 15 cents.
AMC said it plans to reopen another 300 theaters by Sept. 3, in time for Warner Bros.’ release of “Tenet,” with Disney’s “The New Mutants” slated to make its debut on Aug. 28.
And the movie theater giant is planning other price promotions as well, with $5 tickets for “bring-back titles” such as “Black Panther,” “Back To The Future” and “Ghostbusters,” matched with a range of $5 snack items, including popcorn and soda.
Still, AMC’s bid to lure back customers to theaters by slashing ticket and concession prices could be a risky bet, as PYMNTS reported last week in a detailed analysis of the challenges facing the iconic theater chain.
Companies that try and drive traffic by slashing ticket prices don’t typically fare well, as demonstrated by the now-defunct MoviePass.
“Lowering ticket and concession prices is a risky strategy for AMC and other operators, as snacks generate most of the actual profits,” PYMNTS noted. “Seating will be COVID-style for a while, meaning that chains will be way off revenue projections as they have fewer, cheaper seats to sell.”
AMC faces other serious challenges as well. Many people are now skittish about spending time in public spaces, with the emergence of a new breed of consumers – dubbed “Safety Shifters” by PYMNTS – who are hypervigilant about the threat posed by COVID-19.
Meanwhile, new streaming services are providing a cornucopia of new entertainment options in an effort to make staying home look even more attractive.
“The bottom line is that large segments of the population now evince a strong dislike of crowds in closed-in spaces, or even open-air stadiums, for that matter,” PYMNTS noted.