There’s a bit of conventional wisdom that says cinemas don’t make money from the tickets you buy, but from the overpriced concessions you get on eating while you watch. Because of this, AMC Theaters apparently decided it was a good idea to make the concession stand virtual. In an earnings call yesterday, AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron said the company is partnering with Uber Eats and rolling out a plan to bring popcorn and other concession items to living rooms and home theaters by the end of the year.
This comes nearly a year after AMC first announced it would sell its AMC Theaters Perfectly Popcorn, the same popcorn it’s been selling in its theaters for more than a century since 1920, across four new platforms. Beginning in 2022, AMC will begin selling AMC Theaters Perfectly Popcorn at select malls across the United States. These new kiosks, counters and stores will sell authentic AMC theater popcorn and other AMC theater snack items.
“We are already in test markets in Chicago and Kansas City with our partner Uber Eats for home delivery of AMC Perfectly Popcorn and other concession items from our theaters,” Aron told investors. “The first results are available, so we expect the national rollout in the fourth quarter of this year. Likewise, recipe development for microwaveable and ready-to-eat popcorn is well underway, going very well and we look forward to selling our popcorn products in grocery and/or convenience stores over the next year.”
This appears to be part of an aggressive move by AMC to boost revenues after a couple of years early in the pandemic and ever-shorter windows of exclusivity for most major studios at the cinema. The expansion and modernization of their business model also includes AMC’s earlier announcement that it would accept bitcoin payments at its theaters for tickets and groceries.
Arguably the loudest voice in the exhibitions industry, Aron clashed with AT&T CEO Jason Kilar over his decision to send Warner Bros.’ 2021 films to HBO Max for day and date releases, as well as an attempt to shout down government officials who imposed restrictions on cinemas at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Temporary closures, combined with a shortage of big Blockbuster tent poles, contributed to the permanent closure of hundreds of movie theaters between the start of the pandemic and late 2021 Spider-Man: No Way Home marked what appears to be the first truly unaffected blockbuster release since March 2020.