AMC Theaters Announces Latest Move To Boost Ticket Sales

AMC Theaters announced a plan to price tickets based on seat location within the auditorium, although it’s unclear that such a cookie-cutter plan will work in all markets. It’s likely to go over well in major markets where incomes are higher and the upper middle class and the wealthy are happy to pay more to get the best seats. However, in rural areas where incomes are lower it might not be seen as a perk.

The initiative is called Sightline at AMC and will roll out in select markets initially, and nationwide after it has been tested. You will be able to choose Standard Sightline for the regular cost of a ticket, Value Sightline in the front row for a lower cost, and Preferred Sightline, which will be seats in the middle of the auditorium.

In fact, many other entertainment venues are lowering prices to entice more viewers to come in after attendance came to a halt, then crawled back slowly for live events due to COVID-19. For instance, The Tampa Bay Rays are offering $10 tickets to all home games this season with the hope that a “lower price point will lead to larger crowds,” according to Marc Topkin of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. The lower-priced tickets are “in the Party Deck area above left field and selected lower-level games,” he said, with at least 1,000 of these tickets available for each game. The Rays have implemented improvement in ticketing technology so scalpers can’t buy the tickets and sell them at a higher price.

The new offering from AMC is based on a loyalty program already in place. The premium tickets will only be available to those who are enrolled in the AMC Stubs club, which has three tiers:

Premiere cost $15/year plus tax gives discounts on large popcorn and fountain drinks, waives online ticket fees and gives you perks like discounted tickets on Tuesdays and a $5 reward for every dollar spent.

A List costs $19.95/month plus tax and gives you the same benefites of Stubs Premiere plus you can watch up to 3 movies a week in Dolby Cinema, IMAX or RealD.

Although some worries have abated regarding catching COVID-19, the flu, or some other infectious disease when going out and particularly being in close proximity to people in movie theaters, some movie goers changed their habits completely, opting to just stay home and enjoy streaming films.

AMC has been struggling to get movie-goers to return to the theaters in droves post COVID, introducing a loyalty program for its “meme investors” who caused a short squeeze, enabling AMC to sell stock and avoid bankruptcy. Shares in AMCX were at $2/share at the beginning of 2021 when it was considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy but soared to a high of $72.62 in June of 2021 after meme investors jumped into the stock. It closed yesterday at $18.04.

Meme investors called themselves “the ape army” and management at AMC rewarded them . Members of AMC Investor Connect get a tub of free popcorn every time they visit as well as discounted movies on Tuesdays, free screenings and other rewards and perks. The ape army has nicknamed CEO Adam Aron “Silverback,” and he is doing everything he can to keep them loyal.

The company also announced it will be issuing a co-branded Visa card this year and those who sign up and spend $50 within the first three months of receiving the card will get $50 worth of credit at the theater.

Still, the company has a lot of work ahead of it and it’s not clear that raising ticket prices for some seats will do the trick. It reported $2.9 billion in revenue for the first three quarters of last year with an operating loss of $298 million. It’s a huge improvement over 2021 when the company was deeply impacted by the pandemic and pulled in only $1.2 billion in revenue and posted an eye-popping operating loss of $4.2 billion.