There's a bit of conventional wisdom, which holds movie theaters don't actually make money on the tickets you buy, but on the overpriced concessions you get to eat while you watch. That being the case, AMC Theatres has apparently decided that making the concession stand virtual is a good idea. In an earnings call yesterday, AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron said that the company is partnering with Uber Eats and rolling out a plan to get popcorn and other concession items into living rooms and home theaters by the end of the year.
This comes almost a year after AMC first announced that it will sell its AMC Theatres Perfectly Popcorn, the same popcorn it has sold in its theaters for more than a century since 1920, through four new platforms. Starting in 2022, AMC will begin selling AMC Theatres Perfectly Popcorn at select mall retail locations around the United States. Those new kiosks, counters, and stores will sell authentic AMC movie theater popcorn and other AMC movie theater snack items.
"We're 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 early results are available, so we expect to roll out nationally in Q4 of this year. Similarly, recipe development for microwaveable and ready-to-eat popcorn is well underway, going extremely well and we look forward to being able to sell our popcorn products in grocery stores and/or convenience stores next year."
This feels like part of an aggressive move by AMC to increase revenue after a couple of down years at the start of the pandemic and increasingly shorter theatrical exclusivity windows for most major studios. The broadening and modernizing of their business model also includes AMC's previous announcement that it would begin accepting Bitcoin payments at its theaters for tickets and food items.
Aron was arguably the loudest voice in the exhibition industry, sparring with AT&T chief Jason Kilar over the latter's decision to send Warner Bros.' 2021 movies to HBO Max for day-and-date releases as well as trying to shout down government officials who implemented restrictions on theaters at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Temporary closures, combined with a lack of big blockbuster tentpoles, contributed to the permanent shuttering of hundreds of movie theaters between the start of the pandemic and the end of 2021, when Spider-Man: No Way Home marked what seemed like the first truly unaffected blockbuster release since March 2020.