With its core exhibition business the subject of heated speculation about the future of release windows and the impact of Netflix on its business, AMC Theatres is responding by launching a streaming service of its own.
AMC Theatres on Demand will offer about 2,000 movie titles from distributors large and small, including releases from all major studios. Lionsgate and Paramount at launch have added an incentive, promising three additional movies to any customer who chooses one of the studios’ films as their first rental or purchase.
Investors cheered the news, sending AMC shares up 4% in mid-day trading, to $9.31 a share.
The service is only available to members of AMC Stubs, a free loyalty plan with more than 20 million U.S. households on its rolls. Those members can access the streaming service on AMCTheatres.com as well as through a range of connected devices and mobile and smart TV apps. AMC added the A-List subscription plan to Stubs in 2018 and offers a fee-based Stubs tier along with the basic, free membership.
While the marketplace for transactional video on demand movie rentals and sales is fairly saturated, AMC said it is in a unique position to leverage its No. 1 chain of theaters.
“The addition of AMC Theatres On Demand, which extends our movie offerings for AMC Stubs members into their homes, makes perfect sense for AMC Theatres, for our studio partners and for our millions of movie-loving guests,” CEO Adam Aron said. “With our web site and smartphone apps already being visited hundreds of millions of times annually by movie fans, AMC Theatres is in a unique position to promote specific movies with greater personalization than has ever been possible before. Through the launch of AMC Theatres On Demand, we can reach movie lovers directly and make it easy for them to access films digitally.”
Major studios have agreed to make new releases and library titles available. New releases will hit AMC Theatres On Demand at the same time they become available digitally on other platforms, following the traditional theatrical window set by each studio for each movie.
Another aspect of the announcement is the first cross-platform marketing partnership between AMC Theatres and AMC Networks. The latter’s IFC Films and RLJE Films will supply catalog titles to AMC Theatres On Demand later this year, and in return AMC Theatres will promote AMC Networks streaming services Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now and UMC.
AMC Networks COO Ed Carroll called it “a great opportunity for us to both make our film titles available to movie customers and also increase awareness of our growing streaming services, which are all focused on specific genres and content categories fans are passionate about.”