Theater chain megagiant AMC, which boasted some truly radical arcade games in the 90s and more recently served me perfectly adequate nachos during my showing of Rocketman, reported a massive loss during the first quarter of 2020. Considering the fact that movie theaters nationwide shut down in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, a loss is to be expected, but the company was already earning a reduced profit from the previous year when the closures hit. All told, AMC suffered a net loss of $2.4 billion, and it seems entirely possible that the company might not recover.
As reported by THR, the loss was revealed alongside news that the theater chain intends to be “fully open globally in July”, which feels a little optimistic. Currently, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and Disney’s live-action Mulan remake are still scheduled to release in theaters in July, but that could change at a moment’s notice. Disney has already pushed Mulan back once from its originally scheduled release this past March, and neither studio is going to want to risk losing money on a major tentpole film if audiences decide to continue sheltering in place this summer.
AMC’s CEO Adam Aron said in a conference call, “While cautious lawyers and accountants properly like for us to air the obvious substantial doubts should more calamity happen, I for one know that AMC will lift every rock and take every reasonable action we can to put AMC on a solid and improving path.” Aron also indicated that every AMC theater in the U.S. and U.K. “will resume operations in the month of July”, and that “our current plan is to have almost all of our theaters globally operating in July.” AMC has laid off or furloughed over 26,000 employees since the shutdown, including Aron himself, who recently made headlines over his scathing letter to Universal about their proposed strategy of releasing movies in theaters and on VOD simultaneously following the on-demand success of Trolls World Tour.
I understand that businesses are eager to reopen, and I freely admit that one of the things I most want to do right now is go see a movie. But with testing still extremely limited and no vaccine in sight, simply declaring the pandemic to be over seems like a potentially disastrous strategy.