Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Entertainment, said tickets for The Batman will cost more than other movies when it opens this week as the chain experiments with variable pricing.
“Currently, our prices for The Batman are slightly higher than the prices we are charging for other movies playing in the same theaters at the same time,” Aron said during a webcast following quarterly earnings. He said the move follows a few years after it successfully raised weekend pricing above midweek levels at some of its U.S. locations.
“This is all quite novel in the United States, but actually AMC has been doing it for years in our European theaters. Indeed, in Europe we charge a premium for the best seats in the house — as do just about all sellers of tickets in other industries — take sports events, concerts and live theater, for example.” Aron sees “considerable upside opportunity ahead if we continue to be imaginative” on pricing.
He didn’t offer any specifics and he wasn’t asked. But a quick online search of the AMC Empire 25 in Times Square showed tickets for The Batman, at $18.99, were a dollar more than tickets for Uncharted and Dog.
AMC now takes very few questions from traditional Wall Street analysts on its calls. Instead, CFO Sean Goodman reads queries collected online from AMC’s massive base of retail investors. In response to one on the company’s expansion plans, Aron said that the chain will continue to grow its circuit by searching out out good movie theaters in strong markets that are available and cheap. But he also put investors on notice of “transformational M&A” ahead that is outside of its core business. “There is no specific company that we are yet ready to acquire, but I want to say again and again that people…should think about what a strong management team can do with $1.8 billion,” he said referring to AMC’s available funds.
“We are going to look at candidates to diversify our risks away from pure movie theaters, to capitalize on our knowledge of food and beverage, of entertainment, of selling tickets to things, of running buildings that are far apart from each other, dealing with landlords with hundreds and hundreds of leases — this is all experience that AMC has that is needed in other industries too.” Aron said.
Meanwhile, recent initiatives include: four rounds of NFT giveaways, three linked to big films, with plans to start charging for them and taking commissions for sales on secondary markets; accepting payment in crypto; launching a retail popcorn selling blitz; and moving into merchandise. Coming this weekend — a six-inch tall Batman-head popcorn holder.
“I am hoping that will sell out,” Aron said.