AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. is an American movie theater chain, majority owned by Chinese Wanda Group and listed as a subsidiary headquartered in Leawood, Kansas, and the largest movie theater chain in the world. Founded in 1920, AMC has the largest share of the U.S. theater market ahead of Cineworld and Cinemark Theatres.
After acquiring Odeon Cinemas, UCI Cinemas, and Carmike Cinemas in 2016, it became the largest movie theater chain in both the world and the United States. It has 2,200 screens in 244 theatres in Europe and over 8,200 screens in 661 theatres in the United States.
The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange; from 2012 to 2018, the Chinese conglomorate Wanda Group owned a majority stake in the company. Private equity firm Silver Lake Partners made a $600 million investment in AMC in September 2018, but the voting power of AMC shares is structured in such a way that Wanda Group still controls the majority of AMC's board of directors.
As of March 18, 2020, all AMC theaters are temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the company plans to reopen most of its theaters in August. However, as of July 28, 2020, AMC Theaters has signed on "a multi-year deal" with Universal Pictures on releasing new films on VOD streaming after three weekends.
HistoryAMC Theatres was founded in 1920 by Maurice, Edward, and Barney Dubinsky, who had been traveling the Midwest performing melodramas and tent shows with actress Jeanne Eagels. They purchased the Regent Theatre on 12th Street between Walnut and Grand in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The Dubinskys eventually changed their name to Durwood, and the company they formed eventually became known as Durwood Theatres.
In 1961, Edward's son Stanley H. Durwood took control of Durwood Theatres, then a small 10-theatre chain, when his father died. Stanley had attended Harvard University and served as a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. He renamed Durwood Theatres as American Royal Cinema on October 1, 1968.
During the incorporation process, the name was changed to American Multi-Cinema, Inc., and Stanley began to apply military management and the insights of management science to revolutionize the movie theatre industry. As he later explained to Variety magazine, "We needed to define what our company was doing in the business. My dad wasn't that organized." It was structured under the belief that every customer was a "guest".
Under its new name, AMC Theatres opened the two-screen Parkway Twin theatre in a shopping center on Kansas City's Ward Parkway in 1963. This was the company's first foray into using the multiplex model. According to Variety, Stanley Durwood later claimed in 1962 that he "was standing in the lobby of his 600-seat Roxy in Kansas City mulling over its poor grosses, when he realized he could double his box office by adding a second screen and still operate with the same size staff."
The industry quickly embraced the multiplex concept, where additional screens meant very little difference in staff and operating costs but resulted in a significant increase in profits. The concept also provided more film choices at one location, drawing bigger crowds. It also gave owners the flexibility to show big hits on more screens, and less reliance on any individual film that could turn out to be a bust.
, New York City
By the 1980s, the company was experiencing strong growth and in 1983 it had its initial public offering. AMC Theatres built it first multiplex overseas in 1985, the 10-screen multiplex at The Point, Milton Keynes in the United Kingdom, and later opened additional sites in the UK such as in Dudley and Tamworth, Staffordshire. In October 1988, they announced a joint venture with United Artists and Cinema International Corporation, to run their combined cinemas in the UK, Ireland under the AMC name, however, AMC pulled out of the joint venture in December 1988, and sold their U.K. assets, including their 12 cinemas, to the new entity for $98 million and withdrew from the UK market.
In 1995, AMC Theatres pioneered the first North American megaplex, a theater that could accommodate thousands, when it opened the AMC Grand 24 in Dallas, Texas; the first megaplex in the world had been built by European chain Kinepolis in 1988. AMC continued to open other megaplex theaters, such as the AMC Hampton Towne Center 24 in Hampton, Virginia, and the chain's busiest theater in the US, the AMC Empire 25 in New York City near Times Square.
On December 13, 1996, AMC opened the Ontario Mills 30, a 30-screen theater in Ontario, California, which was the theater with the most screens in the world. Other 30- screen multiplexes were later built including the AMC DINE-IN Studio 30 in Olathe, Kansas, the Gulf Pointe 30 in Houston, Texas, the AMC DINE-IN Grapevine Mills 30 in Grapevine, Texas, the AMC Orange 30 in Orange, California, the AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville, IL, and the AMC Forum 30 in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
AMC Theatres' megaplex theatres were a success overseas as well. In April 1996, they opened Canal City 13 in Fukuoka, Japan which was followed on December 20, 1996, by the AMC Arrábida 20 in Porto, Portugal. In January 2002, the 16-screen Great Northern theatre was opened in Manchester in the U.K., which was later supplemented by the opening of a 12-screen cinema on the Broadway Plaza site in Birmingham in October 2003. AMC Theatres' United Kingdom outlets typically serve a dual function; in addition to the normal cinema functions, they also cater to companies' business conferences which can make use of their projectors for displaying presentations.
AMC Theatres was acquired by Marquee Holdings Inc. in 2004, an investment vehicle controlled by affiliates of J.P. Morgan Partners, LLC, the private equity arm of JPMorgan Chase, and Apollo Global Management, a private investment firm. At the time, AMC was publicly traded on AMEX under the code AEN.
In 2006, the company announced a new initial public offering, which was expected to be worth approximately $789 million; however, adverse market conditions convinced the company's management to withdraw from such an offering on May 3, 2007. The company filed for a $450 million IPO in its third such filing since 2006 on July 14, 2010.
Stanley Durwood died in 1999, and his successor was Peter Brown, the first non-Dubinsky/Durwood family member to head the company. Gerardo I. Lopez succeeded Brown as president and CEO of AMC Theatres on March 2, 2009. Previously, Lopez was the Executive Vice President of President Consumer Products Group, Seattle's Best Coffee, and Foodservice at Starbucks. Under new leadership, one of the first major announcements came in March of the same year; the company announced that it would equip 1,500 of its screens with Real D projectors. In the same month, AMC Theatres announced that it had closed on a $315 million deal with Sony the parent company of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Interactive Entertainment to replace all of its reel projectors with digital cinema projectors, starting in the second quarter of 2009 and completing in 2012.
The company used to have its headquarters in downtown Kansas City. In September 2011, AMC Theatres announced plans to move its headquarters to a new $30 million four-story building designed by 360 Architecture in the Park Place development at 117th Street and Nall Avenue in Leawood, Kansas in suburban Kansas City. The state of Kansas had offered $47 million in incentives to get the 400 jobs to move.
After reaching a settlement with the state of Illinois in April 2012 regarding complaints from a disability rights organization, AMC pledged to equip all of its theaters in the state with captioning and description services by 2014. The disability rights group had accused the company of only providing closed captioning or audio description systems at some of its locations in the state.
AMC Theatres was acquired by Wanda Group, a Chinese conglomerate headquartered in Dalian, in May 2012. Wanda Group paid $2.6 billion to acquire AMC Theatres' 5,048 screens in 347 theaters in the U.S. and Canada. The deal was finalized on September 4, 2012. The acquisition made Wanda the world's largest cinema chain. Wang Jianlin, CEO of Dalian Wanda Group, announced that the company would plan to spend $500 million renovating AMC locations.
AMC Theatres had eight movie theatres in Canada. In July 2012, four locations were sold to Cineplex Entertainment, and two more locations were sold to Empire Theatres and later acquired by Landmark Cinemas. The two remaining locations have since closed.
Gerardo I. Lopez announced his resignation as CEO of AMC in August 2015. Craig Ramsey was appointed as the interim CEO by the company board. In December 2015, AMC announced that Adam Aron would be the company's president and chief executive officer beginning January 4, 2016. Aron will also be a member of the company's board of directors.
In March 2016, AMC Theatres announced it would acquire competitor Carmike Cinemas. In July 2016 Carmike's management accepted a revised offer, pending regulatory, and shareholder approval. The deal was closed on December 25, 2016, making AMC the largest cinema chain in the United States.
On March 1, 2017, AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron stated that the company would re-brand the Carmike Cinemas locations under the AMC name; smaller locations were rebranded under the new banner AMC Classic. Aron also announced a plan to re-brand its kitchen-equipped theaters under the name AMC Dine-In.
In July 2017, AMC Theatres announced they would be cutting $30 million in expenses by the end of the year. This cost reduction will be accomplished by reducing operating hours, cutting staffing levels, and other measures.
In September 2018, Silver Lake Partners made a $600 million investment in AMC Theatres, whose proceeds were used to repurchase approximately 32% of Wanda Group's class B common stock. However, the voting power of AMC's shares is structured in such a way that even after reducing its ownership of AMC common stock to just under 50% by the end of 2019, Wanda Group continues to retain majority control over AMC's board of directors.
In October 2019, AMC began to offer on-demand rentals and purchases of digital film releases under the banner AMC Theatres On Demand. The service is tied to the company's Stubs loyalty program.
On March 18, 2020, AMC announced the closure of all of its theaters for a six to 12 week period due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning March 20, 2020, AMC furloughed all employees until further notice. Employees were not given any pay. On March 25, 2020, AMC furloughed all of its 600 corporate employees, including CEO Adam Aron. All furloughed corporate AMC employees and associates retain their active employment status, including all health benefits.
On April 28, 2020, AMC announced that they would no longer play films from Universal Pictures, following the studio's announced plans to release its films on demand simultaneously with theatrical releases.
On June 3, 2020, AMC announced that it had “substantial doubt” that it will remain in business after the movie theaters were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On June 18, 2020 AMC reported plans to resume operations in 450 of its US locations in August after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to close its US venues for over four months.
On July 28, 2020, it was reported that AMC and Universal were able to resolve their dispute, with AMC agreeing to a shorter theatrical window of 17 days before Universal could release their films on demand.
FeaturesAMC patented cup holder armrests in 1981. AMC also introduced stadium-style seating. The seats are placed on risers so that each person has an unobstructed view of the screen. In 1995, they introduced "Love Seat" style seating with retractable armrests so that there can be no barrier between two seats. These features have become standard for nearly all movie theaters built today by almost all major chains.
Premium formatsSelected AMC locations offer premium screens and features for a higher ticket price, including large-screen formats. Most theater locations are equipped to show 3D films in RealD 3D.
- Dolby Cinema auditoriums feature dual 4K laser projectors with Dolby Vision HDR, Dolby Atmos surround sound, and recliners with seat-mounted subwoofers. They also feature special entrance tunnels into the auditorium, with a display that displays video content relating to the film being screened.
- IMAX auditoriums are available at many locations; IMAX Digital projectors are used in most locations, with a few using traditional 70 mm analog projectors.
- Prime at AMC auditoriums feature large screens with Dolby Atmos, and recliners with seat-mounted subwoofers.
- BigD is a large-screen format inherited from the Carmike Cinemas chain, which uses a 70-foot screen and stadium seating with retractable armrests.
- * ETX is a premium large format used by AMC in select markets, which is currently being phased out in favor of AMC Prime and Dolby Cinema. It was originally introduced in 2009.
- Virtual Reality
- * AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc invested $20 million in virtual-reality arcades and productions: $10 million to virtual reality entertainment company Dreamscape Immersive and another $10 million in a content fund.
Guest loyalty programs
On April 1, 2011, AMC started a new rewards program known as AMC Stubs. This program could be purchased for a fee of $12 for an entire year. For that initial fee, each AMC Stubs member would receive $5 on every $50 spent between the box office and the concession stand at any AMC theater nationwide. AMC Stubs members also received a free size upgrade with every popcorn and drink they purchase.
Other perks include birthday gifts and waived ticketing fees for online ticketing sites such as MovieTickets.com and Fandango and also online ticket purchases through AMC's own website and mobile app. Receipts or ticket stubs were required for manual adjustments. No more than four manual adjustments would be allowed per account in a single calendar month. Manual adjustments would be made for purchases made within 30 calendar days from date of original purchase.
As of March 29, 2012, AMC Stubs had 3.2 million members, which represents approximately 18% of AMC attendance during fiscal 2012. In July 2018, AMC Stubs was split into three programs which are currently still in-place: the free AMC Stubs Insider; the yearly fee-based AMC Stubs Premiere, which costs $15 annually and provides the same benefits as the original Stubs plus an expedited line at tickets and concessions; and the monthly fee-based AMC Stubs A-List, which includes up to 3 movie tickets a week to any film in any format for $19.95 to $23.95 a month, depending on the state the member plans to watch movies in. Discount Tuesdays is another feature every Tuesday for members to purchase tickets typically for just $6 to any film in most locations, with occasional exclusions, plus surcharges for premium formats such as 3D, IMAX, and Dolby Cinema, as well as special events.
MacGuffins Bar and LoungeSome AMC locations have a bar service under the MacGuffins brand. These are primarily offered at AMC and AMC Dine-in locations, but some AMC Classic locations with liquor licenses offer their alcoholic beverages under this brand. Drinks can be ordered to be drunken in the bar and lounge area or taken into the theater. Some AMC Dine-in theaters have their MacGuffins set up as a full service restaurant that can be accessed without having to pay for a movie ticket.
VouchersSeveral types of vouchers may be used at AMC Theatres.
- Black And Yellow tickets
- * AMC sells Black and Yellow tickets, typically priced from $8.50 to $10.25, that can be purchased in bulk at many retailers, like Costco and Sam's Club, as well as at AMC locations. Both can be redeemed towards any movie, but yellow tickets cannot be redeemed in the states of California, New York, and New Jersey. Regardless of the ticket used, surcharges apply for special presentations and premium formats such as RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema, IMAX, among others.
- Gift cards
- * AMC offers gift cards, which are sold at AMC theaters and by some retailers. They can be used to buy goods or services both online and at AMC theaters.
- Snack vouchers
- * AMC offers Show Snacks coupons. Some can be exchanged for a small popcorn, while others offer a small fountain drink. The chain also offers similar coupons via SMS or smartphone apps. Older coupons specially designed for the concession stand may be honored by AMC, at its discretion.
Policy for R-rated films
BrandsMost locations operate under the main AMC brand after the Carmike merger, but AMC introduced two additional brands for their theaters. Along with their main AMC brand, previously AMC has operated locations under the Loews, Star Theatres, Starplex, Showcase, and Magic Theatres names, among others, but as of February 28, 2017, have started phasing those brands out along with Carmike's own brands and is unifying them under one of three names. Although the announcement was made on March 1, 2017 one location acquired from Carmike was re-branded to AMC Classic on February 23, 2017, seven days before the announcement. The transition was finished in April 2017.
AMC TheatresThe main AMC brand is being used at most locations and will include premium features such as recliner seating, reserved seating, MacGuffins bars, and large format auditoriums such as IMAX. These locations also have concession stands with "innovative" menus. These locations use the slogan "AMC Amazing" and use the main corporate logo for their branding.
AMC ClassicThe AMC Classic banner was introduced following AMC's purchase of Carmike Cinemas, and is primarily used by its former locations. They are positioned as smaller, value-oriented cinemas. Since the purchase, some AMC Classic locations have undergone refurbishments to add expanded concessions options, upgraded AV equipment, and reclining seats.
Some theatres like Festival Plaza 16 in Montgomery, Alabama, and Palm Promenade 24 in San Diego, California were formerly part of the main AMC brand.
AMC Dine-In TheatresIn several markets, AMC offers Dine-In Theaters branded as Fork and Screen, Cinema Suites, and Red Kitchen which offer the option to order full meals and alcoholic beverages. They also feature reserved seating with a button located by every seat to signal a server. After the Carmike merger, AMC announced that all locations with full kitchen service will be unified under the AMC Dine-In brand phasing out the current sub-brands and the brands used by Carmike: Ovation, Sundance, and Bogart's.
Some locations currently are configured as "Dine-In Express Pick-up" locations where the dine-in menu is offered but the locations lack the table service in the actual theaters These locations are currently former Sundance Theaters and 2 former Muvico locations that had Bogart's Bar & Grill restaurants attached. These locations use the marketing slogan "Movies with a Menu" and use a logo depicting a fork in a film countdown circle.
Universal Cinema, an AMC TheatreThe AMC Citywalk Stadium 19 located in Universal Studios Hollywood's Citywalk was rebranded under this name in December 2016, and was renovated and had its grand reopening on April 21, 2017 under the new brand. This location includes a seven-story IMAX screen with IMAX Laser and IMAX 70mm Film, as well as "Black Box"–inspired design auditoriums. It has one Christie Laser Projector per auditorium, with Dolby Atmos speakers.
Other endeavorsIn July 1994, AMC Theatres signed an agreement with Sony to begin installing Dolby Digital in auditoriums, and in 2003 began upgrading selected older auditoriums. AMC announced an agreement on March 26, 2009, to convert 1,500 existing auditoriums to fully digital 3D screens using RealD technology. On March 30, 2009, AMC announced they will convert all 4500 screens in their chain to 4K digital projectors provided by Sony.
In competition with IMAX, AMC had begun its conversion at select locations to the 'Enhanced Theatre Experience', with the installation of larger screens, 12-channel surround sound, and digital projection. AMC's ETX includes Dolby Atmos in some locations. As of 2016, some of these ETX locations have become Dolby Cinema at AMC locations.
AMC also formed a short-lived partnership with Planet Hollywood which failed due to Planet Hollywood's bankruptcy. The Planet Movies by AMC venture planned to open complexes worldwide with the objective of having icon locations in major metropolitan and other select areas, like Orlando and Columbus. Initially, seven existing, unnamed AMC megaplex theaters with more than 150 combined screens were to be re-branded under a license arrangement to incorporate certain elements of the new concept. The initial seven re-branded locations were to include markets such as Orlando, Florida. The AMC Pleasure Island 24 megaplex in Orlando, situated directly across from Planet Hollywood's most successful restaurant and retail unit and adjacent to Disney's Pleasure Island was to be the first Planet Movies location.
After the initial seven, the joint-venture planned to own and operate all subsequent units including 8 to 10 complexes with 200 to 250 screens planned to open over the next 18 to 24 months. Over the longer term, the venture anticipated rolling out units at the rate of 5 to 10 per year. From almost the very start, the well-publicized financial strains on Planet Hollywood hindered the project. The only Planet Movies location to actually open, a 30 screen megaplex, did so in the summer of 1999 at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio. The location was also located alongside an Official All Star Café and Planet Hollywood restaurant.
The continued poor financial performance of Planet Hollywood led the company to declare bankruptcy in December 1998, and even before the first location had opened stated that "the joint venture has no definitive plans to expand this concept once the Columbus site is completed". As Planet Hollywood was preparing to emerge from bankruptcy in October 1999 their re-organization plan emphasized focus back on their core restaurant business and away from side-ventures like Planet Movies and their Cool Planet ice cream chain. The Planet Hollywood restaurant and All Star Café in Columbus were closed in late 2000, and the film memorabilia were also removed from the theater as it was rebranded AMC Easton 30, and continues to operate. The Planet Movies by AMC joint venture was formally dissolved on January 9, 2001.
Both of the Disney Parks in the United States at one time included AMC movie theaters at their Downtown Disney sections: AMC Dine-In Disney Springs 24 all-stadium-seating megaplex with Dolby Cinema and Dine-In Theatres at Walt Disney World Resort and AMC Downtown Disney 12 at Disneyland Resort stadium-seating multiplex. Universal Studios Hollywood also contains an AMC location, called Universal Cinema, an AMC Theatre, that in the past was a Cineplex Odeon. Today, it is an all-stadium-seating megaplex and has 19 screens, including IMAX. At Universal Studios Florida, AMC had the Universal Cineplex 20, until September 2018 when it became a Cinemark.
AMC Independent is an AMC film distribution program that aim to help independent filmmakers get their films in front of theatrical audiences. The program was announced in 2010 via the AMC Blog and has been responsible for promoting and distributing all independent films to AMC theaters since.
AcquisitionsAMC has acquired multiple other theater chains throughout its history, resulting in a total of 385 theaters with 5,128 screens in six countries:
In March 2002, AMC bought General Cinema Corporation, which added 66 theaters with 621 screens to the company assets, as well as Gulf States Theaters, which had five theaters with 68 screens in the greater New Orleans area. In late 2003, AMC acquired MegaStar Theatres, adding additional theaters in the Atlanta and Minneapolis–St. Paul markets.
On January 26, 2006, AMC merged with Loews Cineplex Entertainment to form AMC Entertainment; the deal brought into AMC's fold the entire Loews and American Cineplex chains, along with Magic Theatres and Star Theatres, based in Metro Detroit. In 2010, AMC acquired Chicago-based Kerasotes Showplace Theatres, LLC for $275 million, combining the nation's second and sixth largest movie theater chains, except for the Showplace 14 in New Jersey and the Showplace ICON theatres.
In December 2015, Starplex Cinemas was sold to AMC for approximately $175 million. Most of these theaters now operate as AMC Classic as of July 2017.
On March 3, 2016, AMC announced its intent to acquire Carmike Cinemas in a $1.1 billion deal, pending regulatory and shareholder approval, which would allow it to overtake Regal as the United States' largest movie theater chain. The merger officially closed in December 2016.
In July 2016, UCI & Odeon Cinema Group was sold to AMC for approximately $1.21 billion, subject to European Commission approval. The acquisition was approved by the European Commission and the deal closed in November 2016.
In January 2017, Nordic Cinema Group, the leading movie theater operator in the Nordic and Baltic area, was sold to AMC for approximately $929 million. The deal was completed in March 2017 after AMC received clearance from the European Commission.
ControversiesThe early versions of stadium-style seating as built in 1995 had auditoria configured with an entrance to a flat area in front of the screen for wheelchair users; persons sitting there had to either lean back or look up at an uncomfortable angle to see the screen. Able-bodied guests had to ascend the stairs to sit in the middle of the risers in order to have a comfortable line-of-sight with the screen. Since some wheelchair users may have limited neck movement range, this configuration made AMC a popular target for Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits.
AMC subsequently solved the problem in newer theaters by building full-stadium auditoriums where the main entrance is through a ramp that emerges onto a platform in the middle of the risers so that wheelchair users can enjoy optimal line-of-sight. However, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the company, and obtained an order requiring AMC to retrofit over 1,990 screens in 95 multiplexes and megaplexes across the United States.
The company successfully appealed the order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which ruled on December 5, 2008 that the order was excessive and violated AMC's due process rights under the Constitution of the United States. AMC won by pointing out that the United States Access Board had not yet amended its guidelines for movie theaters to specifically require theaters to provide wheelchair guests sightlines that were as good as those from elevated risers, versus merely providing an unobstructed view of the screen. Therefore, the court ruled that it was unfair to AMC to retroactively hold it to a standard which did not exist at the time it began building stadium-style theaters.
When AMC announced that most of their theaters would reopen in mid-July 2020, the initial announcement said masks would be recommended but not mandatory: AMC CEO Adam Aron stated "we are strongly encouraging our guests to wear masks all across the country, but not requiring it" and "We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy... We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary." But after massive pushback from the public, Aron changed the policy to require masks:
"This announcement prompted an intense and immediate outcry from our customers, and it is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of masks," Aron said.
COVID-19 Impact (2020)Following the impact on the cinema industry by the COVID-19 pandemic, as of March 18, 2020, all AMC theaters are temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and, led the AMC to lose at least $2.4 billion due to the impact, however, the company plans to reopen most of its theaters in August.
However, as of July 28, 2020, AMC Theaters has signed on "a multi-year deal" with Universal Pictures on releasing new films on VOD streaming after three weekends.