AMC Theatres is in danger of running out of cash by the end of the year or by early 2021 if moviegoers don’t return to cinemas in greater numbers, the world’s largest exhibitor warned in public filings on Tuesday.
The theater chain noted that attendance at the 494 of its 598 U.S. locations that it has opened in recent weeks is down approximately 85%. Cinemas in major markets such as Los Angeles and New York City are still closed due to COVID-19, and attendance in reopened states is limited due to social distancing restrictions. The theater business is also suffering from a lack of compelling blockbusters to screen, with movies such as “No Time to Die” and “Soul” getting delayed or moved to streaming platforms. Studios believe that it’s not profitable enough to release pricey movies when the coronavirus infection rates continue to climb in the U.S. and Europe. They also argue that it’s untenable to debut a major release when movie theaters are closed in major cities.
“Given the reduced movie slate for the fourth quarter, in the absence of significant increases in attendance from current levels or incremental sources of liquidity, at the existing cash burn rate, the Company anticipates that existing cash resources would be largely depleted by the end of 2020 or early 2021,” AMC reports. “Thereafter, to meet its obligations as they become due, the Company will require additional sources of liquidity or increases in attendance levels. The required amounts of additional liquidity are expected to be material.”
The filing comes on the heels of a warning issued last week by S&P Global, which predicted that the exhibitor would run out of liquidity within the next six months. The ratings agency reduced AMC’s credit rating as a result.
AMC, which is already heavily leveraged and recently renegotiated its debt to improve its balance sheet, said it is exploring several options. These include packing on additional debt or exploring equity financing; renegotiating lease payments with landlords; selling theaters or other assets; and exploring joint-venture opportunities. AMC said currently it is burning more cash than it is making to keep theaters open and operational, and noted that it is difficult to predict how much money it will need to raise.
“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,” AMC reports.