AMC Entertainment has tapped Starwood Hotels and Resorts chief Adam M. Aron to become its president and chief executive officer, the country’s second-largest exhibitor said Tuesday.
Aron takes the reins from Craig Ramsey, who has served as interim CEO since last summer when Gerry Lopez left the theater chain to head up Extended Stay America. Aron’s start date is January 4. He will also serve as a member of the company’s board of directors.
Ramsey will remain AMC’s chief financial officer. Aron is a veteran of the hospitality and leisure industries, having served as CEO and co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, and president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line. He has also held senior executive positions with United Airlines and Hyatt Hotels and was part of an investor group which owned the then privately-held AMC Theatres.
The past three years have been momentous ones for AMC. China’s Dalian Wanda Group bought the chain in 2012 for $2.6 billion, taking it public a year later. Under Lopez, AMC moved aggressively into overhauling its locations, replacing seats with luxury recliners, sprucing up their menu items, and offering alcoholic beverages in certain locations.
Those moves have now been widely embraced by rivals such as Regal and have been credited with boosting attendance, as well as helping the company keep profits aloft even when the box office is in a trough. They are also seen as an important way to differentiate the movie-going experience at a time when higher-quality television programs and the rise of streaming video are viewed as potential threats to the theatrical movie business.
In a statement, Aron signaled that he will continue to improve amenities, vowing to ” raise the bar even higher.” He went on to say that he was particularly interested in “enriching” AMC’s Stubs, the company’s rewards program.