AMC Ent. Stock Pops As CEO Talks M&A; Says Streamers, Theaters Can Coexist; Missed Oscar Slap

AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron AP

AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron said there’s room for both cinemas and streamers in the current marketplace and the latter would benefit from wider theatrical release of films. He made the comments to CNBC after Apple made history last night with Coda’s Best Picture Oscar win.

“I’ve been saying for years that the market is big enough for theaters and streamers to coexist. We’ve been involved with the streamers, especially Apple, Amazon and Netflix, for years trying to convince them to show their movies in our theaters as well as stream them. If we can convince them accordingly, I think they will even be more successful than they are now, or were last night, and AMC as well,” he said this morning.

He indicated theatrical would be fine, noting the supersized success of Spider-Man: No Way Home and touted upcoming Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World Dominion and Avatar 2.

Apple TV+, which launched in Nov. of 2019, was the first winner in the coveted Best Picture category. Apple doesn’t disclose subscriber or viewership numbers. But Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives estimated in a note today Apple has roughly 25 million paid subscribers on the platform and about 50 million global accounts — and expects that to accelerate after last night’s showing.

Also on the Oscars, Aron tactfully declined to comment on the slap heard around the world, saying he didn’t see it. “This is going to be amazing but that telecast was over four hours long and I was not there for ten minutes of it,” he told host David Faber. He’d asked Aron if Will Smith’s violent outburst would hurt his marketability as a star.

“I went out to get a drink of water at the bar, and they shut the doors behind me and said you can come in at the next commercial break. And those were the ten minutes when the Chris Rock-Will Smith incident occurred. I didn’t see it and therefore shouldn’t comment,” said Aron.

The CEO also predicted more “transformational” M&A after investing in a Nevada gold and silver mine earlier this month That helped send shares of the nation’s largest theater chain soaring 21%. It’s being held aloft by an army of retail investors Aron cultivates carefully on Twitter in an unusual new model for a chief executive.

The company bought 22% of Hycroft Mining Holding Corporation for abut $28 million, making the move alongside Eric Sprott, a leading gold and silver investor. Aron said AMC is an expert in raising money, which struggling public traded Hycroft badly needed, and he’ll leave the mining part to Sprott and company execs. Hycroft’s market cap has surged since the deal.

“Our shareholders have given us a lot of capital. They trust the current management team. They expect us to deploy that capital in growing AMC and transformational M&A,” Aron said. That will continue, he said, as AMC will also uses its cash to continue adding theaters and paying down debt.

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