Aron, 61, will become its CEO on January 4, AMC says this morning. He’ll replace Gerry Lopez, who left in August, and interim chief Craig Ramsey, who will stay on as CFO.
His new three-year contract calls for Aron to receive an annual base salary of $995,000 plus an “incentive plan” bonus with a target of 125% of the salary, the company says in an SEC filing. In addition, he’ll receive $4 million a year in “long term incentive equity compensation.” Half of that will be in the form of restricted stock units that vest over three years “subject to the achievement of reasonable performance criteria.” The other half will consist of performance stock units that vest after three years, also assuming AMC achieves “reasonable performance criteria.”
The new CEO was a Senior Operating Partner of Apollo Management, one of AMC’s owners before China’s Dalian Wanda Group bought the exhibition chain in 2012. He says he finds “the opportunity to partner with other entities in the Wanda Group” to be “particularly intriguing.”
Aron comes to AMC from Starwood Hotels and Resorts. He stepped in as its interim CEO in February when Frits van Paasschen left following several conflicts with the board. Last month Marriott International agreed to pay $12.2 billion for Starwood, potentially creating the world’s biggest hotel company.
Prior to that Aron spent three years as CEO and Co-owner of the 76ers. He had earlier stints as CEO of Vail Resorts and Norwegian Cruise Line after serving as a top exec at United Airlines and Hyatt Hotels.
Wanda Movie Holding EVP Jack Gao lauds Aron’s “ability to target capital investments, implement customer-focused innovations and organize his teams to drive incredible guest experiences that produce exceptional financial returns.”
Aron says that he wants to improve the consumer experience at a chain that shook up exhibition with its successful initiative to reduce the number of seats in many venues, replacing them with cushy recliners — for a premium ticket price. For example, Aron says he wants to make AMC Stubs “a community for those who are fascinated by the allure of motion pictures.”
He’ll have to impress Wall Street as well. AMC’s stock price is down 12.5% so far in 2015 — and more than 35% since peaking in March. Many investors believe that next year’s box office revenues will decline from this year’s, raising questions about all exhibition companies’ growth prospects.