Greg Rutkowski, an exhibition veteran who was instrumental in several innovations during his 20-year tenure at AMC Theatres — including the circuit-wide introduction of the cupholder armrest — died November 28 in Los Angeles from pancreatic cancer. He was 64. While at AMC, Rutowski helped expand the circuit, especially in LA, including AMC’s flagship theatre in Century City (Century 14) and one of the first high-volume theaters in Burbank (Burbank 10). He also opened the Santa Monica 7, among the first marquee tenants on the Third Street Promenade that eventually became a high-end retail district. Among his other operational successes (many still being used today) was exhibition’s first guest-loyalty program, AMC MovieWatcher Rewards, which was based on the airlines’ frequent-flier club models and proprietary research that showed the importance of “value added” amenities; the “Silence is Golden” marketing campaign to remind moviegoers not to talk during the movies, well before the days of cell phones; and Clip, the animated company mascot that appeared in the chain’s feature presentation trailers.
After AMC, Rutkowski co-founded with Jonathan Dern The Bigger Picture, a pioneer in the development and introduction of digitally delivered films; that company eventually became Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. He also worked at Sundance Cinemas as EVP and COO, and was EVP Corporate Development at Century Theatres. Most recently he ran Digital Attractions, a marketing and distribution company for indie films.