Prepare the popcorn: AMC opening more movie theatres

AP – It’s showtime! AMC Theatres said it had 98 per cent of its United States (US) movie theatres open yesterday as a bunch of theatres re-open in California. Even more theatres are expected to open by March 26.

AMC said that more than 40 of its locations in California begun re-opening yesterday. California is expected to open 52 of its 54 locations by Monday.

The Leawood, Kansas-based company is preparing to resume operations at the rest of its California locations once the proper local approvals are in place. AMC previously opened more than 500 of its theatres elsewhere around the country.

Movie theatres all over shuttered their doors a year ago as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe.

While some movie theatres have opened over the past few months with limited capacity and enhanced safety protocols, the announcement by AMC — the US largest movie chain — to open nearly all of its US theatres by month’s end means more people will have more locations to choose from if they want to see a film on the big screen.

The newly re-opened AMC 34th Street theatre. PHOTO: AP

AMC’s announcement is welcomed by movie fans not only because more of them will get to return to AMC’s reclining seats and stadium style format, but because it means the company has hopefully put the worst behind it.

It was only in June that AMC cautioned it may not survive the coronavirus pandemic, as its theatres closed and film studios started releasing more movies directly to viewers on streaming services. But AMC stayed the course, slowly opening its theatres in states over the past several months when it was allowed to and pivoting its business.

One of its outside-the-box moves included renting out theatres for private movie screenings to a limited number of people.

Analyst Eric Wold of B Riley Securities said in a recent client note that he continues “to see an attractive set-up for an attendance and box office rebound into 2022 on an impressive, blockbuster-fueled film slate”. He increased the company’s price target to USD7 from USD5.50.

Shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc rose more than three per cent to USD14.03 in afternoon trading on Thursday. In the year to date the stock is up over 500 per cent.