AMC, the world’s largest movie theater chain, is taking a chance on the small screen with a new advertising campaign after the meme stock beneficiary finds itself flush with cash.
The multimedia campaign, which is dubbed “AMC Theatres. We Make Movies Better,” will cost the company more than $25 million and will feature Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman. AMC said the ads will roll out online and on social media on Wednesday. Versions for network TV will begin airing on Sunday.
The move comes after the company weathered last year’s coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, staved off bankruptcy and raised around $1.8 billion in cash. This year, AMC has been a key beneficiary of this year’s “meme stock” frenzy, in which amateur traders in Reddit chatrooms bet heavily on stocks like GameStop and others.
AMC’s stock is trading below its high of more than $70 reached in June, but it is up 2,300 percent year-to-date.
Armed with cash from the Reddit Rally, AMC has inked new movie theater leases, invested in new payment options like bitcoin, and is looking to increase the variety of its offerings to include sports and pre-taped concerts.
“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 Wednesday.
Aron said movie theaters can no longer rely on the past formula of studios promoting films and driving moviegoers into cinemas. Since the pandemic, more Hollywood studios are putting their movies on streaming services, sometimes bypassing the theater altogether.
AMC will no longer depend on “what’s always worked before,” noting that pandemic has pushed the industry into “uncharted waters,” Aron said.
Although movie theaters began reopening last August, it has taken time for customers to return in sizable numbers. As vaccine rates rose and studios released bigger films in the theaters, more moviegoers began showing up.
AMC over the Labor Day holiday saw one of its best weekends since the pandemic began thanks to Marvel’s “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” which brought in $75.5 million in ticket sales. The strong showing marked the second-highest domestic box office behind “Black Widow,” which reeled in $80 million during its opening in July.
This Labor Day weekend also marked the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that attendance during a weekend in 2021 outpaced attendance from the same weekend in 2019.
Despite that success, the box office is still not back to pre-pandemic levels. Between May and September of 2019, the domestic box office logged $4.3 billion in sales. This year, the box office raked in just $1.7 billion, according to media measurement and analytics firm Comscore.