The movie theater business is in serious trouble. As of next month, AMC Theatres will be completely out of cash resources. AMC Theatres is the largest movie theater chain in the entire world. If they are finding themselves in such a dire situation, it can only be worse for all other theatrical exhibitioners.
In an SEC filing this past Friday, the movie theater giant put forth a frightening warning that its resources could be completely depleted by January 2021. AMC Theatres has already attempted to shift some of the blame to WarnerMedia after their bombshell announcement that they will be releasing the entire Warner Bros. 2021 film slate on HBO Max and in theaters on the same day.
“These challenges have been exacerbated by the announcement by Warner Bros. that its entire studio film slate for 2021 will move to simultaneous release, which may result in other studios adopting a similar strategy,” the filing from the movie theater company said. There is no question that the WarnerMedia decision is causing serious disruption throughout the film distribution world. Is it a large enough move to deeply affect the revenue of a chain like AMC Theatres?
With coronavirus cases continuing to rise, it hard to imagine that audiences are ready to return to the movie theater any time soon. Box office numbers have been steadily showing that there is a pretty clear ceiling on how many consumers currently feel comfortable going to the movies. Even with a vaccine on the way, it does not seem like theater attendance is going skyrocket enough in the coming months to be substantial enough to help out a chain like AMC Theatres.
We are all anxious about what life is going to look like after the pandemic finally gets under control. There is no question that the movie theater industry is going to go through some drastic changes. Hopefully, this means that independent theaters and exhibitors will thrive. However, the large chains such as AMC Theatres and Regal have done a lot over the years to make the movie-going experience a far less rewarding one. If they end up being sacrificial offerings in order to see a new world of film distribution, it will not be a terribly great loss.
But there is still blood in the water for some movie theater exhibitioners. Cinemark is reportedly eyeing AMC Theatres’ dying locations and could swoop in to claim them once the company falls apart. If so, it could position Cinemark as a heavy hitter in the theatrical exhibition landscape post-pandemic. But again, it is going to be very interesting to see when audiences will feel comfortable enough to collect together in movie theaters again. How quickly will they return to the movies once they are being presented as safe?
The movie theater business is going to look very different over the next year. Between this news about AMC Theatres and the truly groundbreaking decision by WarnerMedia regarding their 2021 slate of films, we are witnessing movie history unfold before our very eyes.