AMC Entertainment has ambitious plans to improve its Stubs loyalty program, beef up marketing, and invest in high-end services, CEO Adam Aron told analysts this morning after the company disclosed disappointing Q2 results that drove the stock down about 5.5% in opening trading.
“There’s far more going on at AMC than licking our wounds over the so-so films” in the period, Aron says. He calls the quarter an “odd duck…It’s such a rarity to see a quarter perform as poorly as the second quarter did.”
He was especially upbeat about AMC’s recent restructuring of its AMC Stubs into a $15 a year paid tier and free one. That could boost revenues by as much as 5%, Aron says.
Starting this fall, the paying Premiere customers will be “treated as welcome VIPs” with their own shorter ticket lines. Venues with reserved seats will save the best rows for them. Paying members also will accumulate points they can apply toward ticket discounts at a faster rate than members of the free service.
“We were losing half of our Stubs members because they weren’t renewing,” Aron says. Now those who don’t pay will be moved to the free service.
As a result, “we could very easily double the activity base of AMC Stubs over the next two to three years” to about 40% — closer to airlines and hotels where more than half of customers belong to loyalty programs.
That will give AMC “a much enlarged consumer database…to whom we can market.”
The company also plans to revamp its app and website, which the CEO vows “will be a game changer.” The chain is testing a mobile service that will enable movie-goers at some venues to order food and beverages to be delivered to their seats at a time they specify.
To help capitalize on its efforts, AMC just hired its first VP of Pricing who will oversee decisions across all of its businesses including tickets and concessions.
“It’s almost shocking that the movie theater industry has approached the topic of pricing so casually,” Aron says.
He also says there’ll be no let up in AMC’s investments in recliner seats and large screens.
The company ended 2015 with the plush seating at 1,400 screens in 102 theaters, headed to 2,000 at 140 theaters by year end. He expects that to grow to 3,500 screens at 230 theaters by the end of 2018.
AMC has 45% of Imax’s U.S. venues. It agreed in June to boost its Imax screens by 20% through 2019. In addition, the chain has 20 Dolby Cinema large screens and accelerated plans to reach 100. Their original agreement called for AMC to hit that target by the end of 2024; now they expect to reach that goal by the end of 2017.
The CEO reiterated his warning to Carmike Cinemas shareholders not to expect him to further sweeten his just-increased $1.2 billion offer.
“We’ve made it abundantly clear to one and all” that this is “our best and final offer,” he says. “I shudder to think what would happen to Carmike share performance” if investors reject its offer and AMC walks away. “They now have a real decision to make.”