The AMC Burbank 16 and the Batman bronze statue in Downtown Burbank.
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More than a hundred years after its founding, AMC Entertainment is doing something it’s never done before — advertise on television.
On Wednesday, the world’s largest theater chain announced it would spend more than $25 million on a multimedia campaign featuring Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman.
The ads will break online and on social media on Wednesday. Versions for network TV will begin airing on Sunday.
The move comes after the company endured last year’s coronavirus pandemic disruptions, staved off bankruptcy and raised around $1.8 billion in cash. Armed with those funds, AMC has sought out new cinema leases, invested in fresh payment options like bitcoin, and is seeking to increase the variety of its content offerings to include sports and pretaped concerts.
“As we have said repeatedly of late, thanks to the billions of dollars we have raised this year, AMC is strong, and it is time for AMC to play on offense again,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement.
Traditionally, movie theater owners have relied on studios to promote films and drive moviegoers to their local cinemas. Aron said the company will no longer depend on “what’s always worked before,” noting that pandemic has pushed the industry into “uncharted waters.”
Movie theaters reopened in August of last year, but audiences only recently began returning in droves. As vaccine rates have increased and audiences have become more comfortable outside the home, Hollywood’s blockbusters have generated increasingly better box-office hauls.
Over the weekend, Disney’s “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” tallied $75.5 million in ticket sales, the second-highest domestic debut since the pandemic began, behind “Black Widow,” which snared $80 million during its opening in July.
The newest Marvel film also had the highest opening of any film released over Labor Day weekend and helped AMC smash its admissions record for the holiday. The weekend also marked the first time since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic that attendance during a weekend in 2021 outpaced attendance from the same weekend in 2019.
Still, the domestic box office has not yet fully recovered from the pandemic. Family films — once a box-office staple — have had particularly weak showings, as children under 12 years of age aren’t yet eligible to be vaccinated. “Paw Patrol: The Movie” tallied only $13 million in domestic box-office sales for its late August opening weekend, and it is arguably one of the hottest kids TV franchises around.
In 2018 and 2019, between May and the first weekend of September, the domestic box office totaled $4.4 billion and $4.3 billion in sales, respectively. During that same period in 2021, the box office in the U.S. and Canada secured $1.7 billion in ticket sales, according to data from Comscore.
“With all the change occurring in these uncharted waters in which we now navigate, we believe it is high time for an industry leader like AMC to go on television to remind today’s audiences of the magic that can only be found in a movie theatre and at AMC, with our big seats, our big sound and our big screens,” Aron said.
Other forms of entertainment are also leaning into advertising to bring audiences back. Last month, Broadway producers and theater owners banded together to spend $1.5 million on targeted digital and outdoor advertising. Like movie theater owners, Broadway typically relied on individual shows to market their performances. However, with tourism at nearly a standstill, the Broadway League wants to encourage local residents to turn out to support the industry.