AMC's revenue surges thanks to Taylor Swift and Beyoncé concert films

Things picked up for AMC last summer. Hit movies like "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" drew audiences back to theaters.

AMC's revenue surges thanks to Taylor Swift and Beyoncé concert films
Taylor Swift attends a premiere for Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour in Los Angeles, California, U.S., October 11, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The backstory: AMC, or AMC Entertainment, is the largest movie theater chain in the world, with roots dating back to the 1920s. But it wasn't until 2013 that the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange. Then, in 2020, when the pandemic hit, AMC, like many other businesses, faced tough times. During the pandemic, movie theaters took a massive hit. Lockdowns meant people stayed home and theaters had to close their doors. Even as they started to reopen, there were still challenges. Rising costs elsewhere meant people had less to spend on outings like going to the movies. Plus, competition from online streaming services intensified, with Hollywood releasing more films directly to platforms like Netflix and Disney+

Meanwhile, things got interesting for the theater giant in the stock market when AMC became what's known as a "meme stock." Essentially, its stock value went on a rollercoaster ride driven by social media hype, particularly on platforms like Reddit. This was part of a larger trend where certain stocks became viral sensations, regardless of their actual value. AMC's stock soared upwards of US$500 in 2021, according to Macrotrends. But its stock is currently trading below US$5 as of publication. 

More recently: Things picked up for AMC last summer. Hit movies like "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" drew audiences back to theaters. In fact, AMC said last July that it was the best month ever in its over 100-year history. Then, towards the end of 2023, AMC entered the movie distribution arena with exclusive projects like "Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour" and "Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé." 

The development: In the last quarter of 2023, AMC's revenue spiked by 12%, with operating profit nearly tripling. CEO Adam Aron credited this to those successful concert films featuring Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, boosting not just AMC but the entire theater industry. He noted the box office earnings from these movies even outperformed most major studios, except Disney, helping AMC grab a bigger piece of the market. Aron expressed pride in AMC's unexpected accomplishment, considering these were the company's first distributed films. 

So, AMC is looking to cut more deals for concert films and enhance the theater experience for movie-goers with unique offerings, like collectible popcorn buckets. On another note, AMC also announced it would start showing new versions of its pre-show ads featuring Nicole Kidman. This comes after the success of Kidman's first ad campaign for the chain. These new ads aim to spruce up the movie experience for viewers and will start airing in March before each film.

Key comments: 

"It was another full year of continued meaningful recovery from the aftermath of the 2020 pandemic," said AMC CEO Adam Aron in a statement. 

"These two movies added greatly, not only to AMC's bottom line, but to movie theater success across our entire industry," said Aron on AMC's fourth-quarter earnings call. "Just these two films represented fully one-ninth of the complete fourth-quarter, domestic, industry-wide box office."

"This is a stunning result, given that neither of these films were on anyone's drawing board until midyear and that they were the first movies ever distributed by AMC," said Aron. "What a triumph for our company. To that end, it is no surprise that our praise for Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter has no limit."

"These spots are never-before-seen-in-theatres versions of the original, iconic ad," an AMC Theatres spokesperson said in an email about the ads featuring Nicole Kidman.