AMC Entertainment is almost ready to celebrate like 2019

On the face of it, the last weekend of the second quarter was not spectacular for theater operators. No single film has crossed $32 million in domestic box office receipts. It’s the first time we’ve seen this in nearly two months. However, we also had five films top 10 figures in box office revenue each, something we haven’t seen since Valentine’s Day weekend in 2020.

The news gets better. with some movies that draw sizable crowds, we’re actually close to pre-pandemic levels that many bears thought we’d never see again.

Year-over-year comparisons don’t carry much weight in assessing the health of the industry. Stacking shows against 2019 — the last full year before the COVID-19 crisis temporarily shut down multiple operators and studio productions — is standard. Looking ahead to 2022, it could be argued that we still have a long way to go. Gross ticket revenue is down 34% year-to-date from where we were three years ago. Narrowing our focus to just the second quarter, we’re down 27% quarter to date. Zoom out to just the last weekend of the second quarter, and box office receipts are down just 11% from 2019.

Image source: Getty Images.

Making a scene

There is a lot riding on this summer for him AMC Entertainment Holdings (AMC 1.24%) and his younger peers. Hollywood is done delaying movie releases as it did during the first two years of the pandemic. Studios have also started giving away theatrical exclusivity for the first few weeks of a popular new movie instead of feeding premium streaming services as they did at the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

Consumers also feel more comfortable going to the movies. This past weekend was a perfect example, with five big movies pulling in completely different audiences. Elvis AND Top Gun: Maverick attracted nostalgic audiences of various ages. Jurassic World: Dominion attracted fans of one of the biggest film franchises. Light year is still the lure of families despite the controversy. Black Phone rounds out this past weekend’s big five, giving horror fans a chilling thriller that’s earning the ire of critics.

This is what the film industry is supposed to look like. It’s not the odd release property we’ve seen over the past couple of years, with blockbusters coming out on alternate months. That’s why someone like me, who has been skeptical of the industry and its long-term prospects, has no problem returning to growth at least this summer. Things are getting back to normal and we are just getting started.

whether Light year is failing to generate big numbers at the box office, the feature animation space needs to be convincingly filled by Minions: The Rise of Gru this weekend. Next weekend we will see the premiere of Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder strike at the superhero element that has been missing so far this season.

As for AMC itself, the news is even better. This weekend’s ticket sales are 11% below where we were for the last weekend of Q2 2019, but that doesn’t mean AMC generated 11% less revenue. It is taking steps to gain market share during the lull. It’s also doing a better job of getting people to spend more money on food and drink at concession stands. Just as we’ve seen theme park operators rake in more money with fewer guests, per capita spending is also on the rise at the corner multiplex. This summer is playing a lot better for the cinema stakes than you think.

Rick Munarriz has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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