Every year we hear about how movie ticket prices are going up and how attendance is going down. It seems to be part and parcel of an industry undergoing rapid change where consumers have more choices than ever when it comes to how they spend their entertainment dollars. While attendance is indeed down over the long arc of the industry, AMC Theatres says movie attendance is actually up in 2019.
For the third-quarter of the company’s fiscal year, 87.1 million tickets were sold at AMC Theatres. That number of tickets sold represents a quarterly record for the exhibition giant, reflecting an increase in attendance at its theaters around the globe. In the U.S., attendance rose to 61.7 million patrons, up from 58.9 million last year. The international market grew as well, with 26 million tickets sold versus 23.7 million last year.
Those extra tickets sold bumped admissions revenues up to $797.3 million, an increase from last year’s $751.4 million. Concession revenue was also up year over year, rising from $384.8 million to $420 million. As a result of the record number of tickets sold over the three-month stretch to September 30 and the better concession numbers, AMC Theatres’ revenue rose, thereby narrowing the company’s third-quarter loss.
According to a third quarter earnings report, AMC recorded a loss of $54.8 million in the third-quarter. That’s in contrast to the $100.4 million loss the chain recorded a year earlier. Thanks to increased attendance, AMC beat an analyst forecast and grew revenue 7.8% from $1.22 billion in 2018 to $1.31 billion this year.
One thing seemingly helping to drive attendance at AMC theaters is the chain’s Stubs A-List movie subscription program. The program, which was launched in June of 2018 in response to the rise of MoviePass (which has since fallen), has grown to over 900,000 subscribers, well ahead of the initial forecast. And while profitability was something MoviePass never seemed to be able to achieve, AMC says that its Stubs A-List program was profitable in the last quarter.
Although it’s hard to pinpoint the exact reasons AMC hit an attendance record in the last quarter, you’ve got to think that the A-List played some small factor. I also wonder if AMC has any metrics to show how much A-List members spend on concessions compared to other customers, because the concessions sales per-patron were also up from $5.11 to $5.35.
I think some might argue this summer was very hit or miss for movies, but clearly there were enough big and interesting movies, from Spider-Man: Far From Home and The Lion King to IT Chapter Two to get people into theaters over the July-September frame. Whatever drove the increased attendance, it’s a positive sign for the nation’s largest theater chain at a time when there are competing entertainment options for consumers.
According to THR, on a call to discuss the earnings, AMC Theatres’ CEO Adam Aron told analysts that the box office could potentially hit a record $12 billion on the year depending how everything shakes out in the next two months. Either way it’s good to see more people partaking in the theatrical experience.