It was a very rough year for AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest theater chain. Its theaters were dark for months as coronavirus spread around the world, and when some cities and states gave the green light for its cinemas to open back up, Hollywood opted to delay many of its highest-profile releases or send them to streaming services. At various points, AMC teetered on the edge of bankruptcy.
And yet, Adam Aron, the man tasked with leading the company through these treacherous times, profited handsomely. The AMC chief’s total compensation more than doubled in 2020, topping out at $20.9 million in salary, stock and bonuses, according to public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That’s compared to the $9.7 million that Aron received in compensation in 2019 and the $9.5 million he earned in 2018.
Aron received only $1.1 million of his 2020 compensation in salary. He got $5 million from two performance-based bonuses, one in October and another in February, which AMC says was “to recognize the extraordinary actions taken by the management team during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The bulk of Aron’s compensation comes from some $14.8 million in stock awards. The AMC chief took a pay cut from March through October, according to sources.
In terms of other top executives, Chief Financial Officer Sean Goodman earned $4.2 million in total compensation while John McDonald, AMC’s executive vice president of U.S. operations, netted $3.4 million in total compensation. Craig Ramsey, the company’s former chief financial officer, earned $377,200.
Aron was able to renegotiate the company’s debt during the pandemic, which AMC says greatly improved its liquidity. During the worst of the crisis, AMC furloughed or laid off roughly 26,000 employees and shuttered its approximately 1,000 theaters globally. It’s unclear how many of those employees were hired back.