The head of the country’s largest movie theater chain, AMC Entertainment, said he is optimistic about the rapid rebound of the film industry and is confident that his beleaguered company will survive the worst storm in its 100-year history.
With 950 theatres and 10,500 screens across the globe, the Kansas-based theater company said that after closing the books in 2020 with a $4.5 billion net loss, it is sitting on over $1 billion in cash and is ready to capture the world’s pent-up demand to go out and see blockbuster films on the big screen.
“As we sit here today, thanks to developments on so many fronts during the fourth quarter and especially in January and February, I am now in a position to say that I am optimistic and confident about AMC’s ability to weather this COVID-19 storm,” CEO Adam Aron told investors on a conference call Wednesday afternoon (March 10). “Our focus is no longer on survival, but now has turned instead to directing a surge in moviegoing and on the recovery of AMC, objectives that feel to us like they are right around the corner.”
A Boatload of Money
Aron said that despite the predictions of naysayers, AMC was able to “raise a boatload of money” and is well-positioned to start working through a backlog of 40 finished but unreleased films later this spring. “Doomsayers wrote us off several times during the last 10 months, and many strongly doubted our ability to raise the necessary capital to survive absent a court-sanctioned restructuring. But happily, they were wrong,” Aron said.
Although 2020 was AMC’s most challenging year ever, Aron said 2021 is already proving to be “a much brighter story,” as the company was back to its fourth-quarter highs of approximately 90 percent of domestic theaters reopened following a resurgence of COVID-related closures and capacity limits in December. Aron also pointed to the “very important” reopenings of theaters in New York City and San Francisco, as well as the christening of a brand-new theater in Denver.
‘We’re Like LaGuardia’
While movie-goers will welcome the return of “unfettered movie theatre access,” Aron said filmmakers are equally excited to get things rolling again and start releasing a sizable slate of over three dozen widely anticipated new releases. “The CEOs of two major studios each told me that a good metaphor for AMC’s circumstance is that we are LaGuardia Airport closed by a thunderstorm with tons of planes circling overhead, all waiting to land,” Aron said on the call of the impending river of releases, which he said would begin “hitting our big screens starting in May and beyond.”
While he said there is still much work to be done to fully restore AMC, with its cash, customers and studios all eager to get back in business, the change in outlook is a relief. “Taking these facts together, we have reason to be optimistic about AMC’s ability to get to the other side of this pandemic.”