AMC will offer 15 cent tickets when it reopens 100+ US theaters on August 20

Like so many industries, the last five months have been absolutely devastating for movie theaters. As far as sheer volumes go, no one has been harder hit than the world’s largest theater chain. AMC has had plans to reopen theaters for some time — but things change, particularly when you’re dealing with something as uncertain and always-evolving as a global pandemic.

This week, the theater juggernaut announced plans to reopen more than 100 theaters in the U.S. on August 20, constituting a first wave of re-openings. In an attempt to entice understandably cautious customers to return, it will be offering all tickets for $0.15 for one day only (with a limited quantity as it enforces social distancing measures). The number is a momentary return to 1920 ticket prices, as an homage to the chains founding.

Things are still…tricky, of course. Among the bigger issues here is the current lack of new releases to choose from. It’s one of those chicken and egg deals. Movie studios have been equally eager to release films, but haven’t had much luck as local regulations have kept theaters close. After numerous delays, Warner Bros. announced that it will be taking the unusual measure of premiering Christopher Nolan’s Tenet outside of the U.S. before it comes to the States. More than anything, it’s a clear indication of this country’s handling of the COVID-19.

With movies like Tenet and The New Mutants waiting in the wings, AMC will be relying on older blockbusters to try to get butts back in seats. Upcoming films include The Empire Strikes Back, Black Panther, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters and Grease. Those will be priced at $5 a pop, designed to lure folks who can’t wait to return the theater experience, new releases or no.

AMC, of course, was the subject of controversy when it announced that masks would be voluntary for moviegoers, a stance it quickly retracted after intense online backlash. The release noting the reopening includes a laundry list of sanitation and safety measures,

AMC Safe & Clean components include significant reductions in the maximum tickets available for each showtime and seat blocking in reserved seating auditoriums to allow for appropriate social distancing between parties, enhanced cleaning procedures that include extra time between showtimes to allow for a full, thorough cleaning and nightly disinfecting utilizing electrostatic sprayers, use of high tech HEPA vacuums, upgraded air filtration efforts including the use of MERV 13 filters wherever possible, new guest and associate safety protocols that include mandatory mask wearing by all guests and associates, hand sanitizing stations throughout the theatre, and the availability to guests of disinfectant wipes.

The list of theaters can be found here. It’s limited to a handful of cities and states, skipping key markets like California and New York, likely due to local COVID safety restrictions.

AMC’s MoviePass competitor hits 380K users in 3 months, will increase U.S. attendance

As MoviePass flounders and runs out of cash, AMC’s competitive offering, AMC Stubs A-List, is scaling up quickly. The theater chain announced this morning the service is growing faster than anticipated, and has already signed up over 380,000 users in the three months since its late July launch.

The growth is notable also because much of it occurred during the traditional slow time for theaters – the back-to-school season in late August and September, when summer blockbusters come to an end, and families are tied up with other obligations.

Despite this, AMC says it added 120,000 A-List members during the last six weeks, and its members watched over 363 different movie titles to date.

In addition, AMC is projecting that it will see increased U.S. attendance for the first time since 2015, excluding the bump it got by acquiring Carmike Cinemas.

Its movie subscription service, which launched July 26, offers theater goers the ability to watch up to 3 movies per week in any of AMC’s U.S. locations for $19.95 per month, plus tax. This includes speciality theaters, like IMAX, RealD 3D, and others, and it works with AMC’s tickets reservations system both online and in its mobile app.

AMC also took a swing at MoviePass today by reminding potential customers that its service offers a 12-month protection guarantee against changes to the program that could impact its pricing or benefits. That’s remarkably different from MoviePass, which continues to fiddle with pricing plans and is constantly limiting what the service includes.

For example, MoviePass recently began limiting access to specific films and showtimes, as well as the number of visits it supports. It also said it would raise pricing in July to $15 per month, up from $9.99, as its cash flow concerns became a critical issue – especially in the face of new threats like AMC’s service and Sinemia. But it later backtracked on those plans, causing a lot of subscriber confusion.

AMC’s service is effectively promising that it won’t screw around with pricing or plans for at least a year, so you know what you’re getting. That clearly appeals to some portion of the market, given the number of sign-ups A-List has now seen in a short time.

AMC has been a thorn in MoviePass’s side for some time, having previously threatened legal action, which it said devalued the movie-going experience. It also went on record to state that it had “absolutely no intention” of sharing any of its admissions or concessions revenues with MoviePass. Eventually, MoviePass pulled out of some AMC theaters.

“With 380,000 members enrolled in just three months, AMC Stubs A-List is demonstrating that it encourages moviegoers of all ages, locations and backgrounds to come to movie theatres more often, and they’re bringing family and friends along with them,” said Adam Aron, AMC CEO and President, in a statement today about the milestone news. “The early success of this program is evident as AMC is projecting an attendance increase at our U.S. theatres for the first time in three years. This is very good for AMC, and very good for our guests and movie studio partners,” he added.

MoviePass pulls out of AMC’s top theaters as negotiations fail

 MoviePass, the monthly subscription service for seeing movies in theaters, has pulled out of 10 high-traffic AMC theaters, as a negotiating tactic with the theater chain. AMC, so far, has shown no interest in working with MoviePass or sharing revenue with the service for the foot traffic it brings to theaters. For instance, in a call with analysts in last year, AMC’s chief executive… Read More