The monster mano a mano grossed a mighty $48.5 million in its first five days in theaters, setting a record for the pandemic era and signaling that after a punishing year the movie business may be poised for a post-COVID comeback. AMC, the world’s largest exhibitor, saw shares climb 13.4%, while shares of Cinemark, another major chain, jumped 7.1% and shares of Cineworld, the owner of Regal, climbed 5.3%. Imax, which has become a major source of box office for tentpole movies like “Godzilla vs. Kong,” saw its shares increase 4.5% over the course of the day. Other theater-focused companies and chains such as the Marcus Corporation and National CineMedia, which packages advertising and pre-show programming to exhibitors, also got a stock lift, rising 4.8% and 4.4%, respectively. Some of these companies surrendered some of their gains in after-hours trading.
Part of the reason that Wall Street is feeling more optimistic about the sector is that “Godzilla vs. Kong” is a hybrid release. The Warner Bros. film debuted simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, and its robust performance suggests that streaming services might not cannibalize the box office, which is something that exhibition-industry bears have long theorized. It’s also an impressive result given that many theaters are only operating at half or a quarter capacity in order to enforce social distancing.
In an appearance on Fox Business Network, AMC CEO Adam Aron suggested that the good times may continue for theaters.
“People are rushing to get vaccinated,” he noted. “That’s good news for us all.”