AMC Theatres on Tuesday pledged not to close any of its movie theaters that have reopened, despite headwinds that the exhibition industry has faced during the pandemic and the lack of new Hollywood movies on the horizon.
The announcement was made the day after rival cinema chain Cineworld, which operates Regal in the U.S., reported plans to temporarily shutter all 536 locations on Thursday, citing the “challenging theatrical landscape.” Cinemark, another major theater operator, recently said it doesn’t intend to close any U.S. venues.
AMC, the biggest theater chain in the U.S. and Europe, said it’s able to stay open, in part because of the recent deal it struck with Universal Pictures. The historic pact allows Universal the option to put new movies on premium video-on-demand platforms after 17 days on the big screen. In return, AMC gets a cut of the digital profits. Universal has put numerous titles, including “Trolls World Tour,” Pete Davidson and Judd Apatow’s “The King of Staten Island” and “The High Note,” from Focus Features, on digital rental services during the pandemic.
“Fortunately for AMC, our groundbreaking agreement with Universal Studios announced earlier this summer puts AMC in a position where we can open our theatres when others may feel the need to close,” AMC CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “We are fully comfortable showing Universal films in our theaters, even as they implement premium video on demand as we have mutually agreed. This is because AMC will share in premium revenues coming from their early availability in the home.”
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Investors seem encouraged by AMC’s pledge to keep the lights on. In premarket trading, AMC shares were up 3.15% after a day in which its stock was pummeled, falling 11.18% to close Monday at $4.13 a share.
More than 80% of AMC’s U.S. locations are open, and the company says an even higher percentage of international theaters in Europe and the Middle East have resumed business. The circuit is actively planning to reopen more theaters, with the hope that New York and California venues will soon get the greenlight to welcome customers again.
Despite nearly every movie set for 2020 fleeing release calendars, Aron said there are plenty of exciting films to entice patrons in the coming weeks. Though moviegoers won’t be able to see James Bond sequel “No Time to Die,” Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” remake or Universal’s thriller “Candyman” on the big screen this year, audiences will be able to watch “The War With Grandpa,” a new film from Robert de Niro, starting Oct. 9. Other upcoming releases include “Yellow Rose,” “Honest Thief,” “2 Hearts” and Pixar’s “Soul.”
“We take great comfort in knowing that literally millions of moviegoers have already visited our theatres,” Aron said. “They have done so in part because of our AMC Safe & Clean protocols, developed in consultation with Clorox and faculty of the Harvard University School of Public Health. Our guests are telling us that our theatres have never been cleaner, and that they recognize the great effort AMC is making to keep them healthy and safe.”