AMC Theaters


Depending on who you ask the movie business is either in bad financial shape this year or in really, really bad shape. The numbers break it down in similar fashion depending on what time frame you’re looking at. Per Box Office Mojo, 2014 is down 4.6% from last year at this same time and 6.5% compared to 2012. This isn’t particularly stunning or upsetting news as even a cursory glance at the same chart shows similar drops and equivalent jumps are a common enough occurrence over the years. But this summer’s box office has seen a far more dramatic decline. 2014’s summer months are down nearly 19% from this time last year, and the July 4th holiday weekend brought in a whopping 46% less than 2013’s. It was actually the lowest it’s been since 1999 — and that’s a pretty scary statistic for those in the movie business. AMC thinks they have the answer to the decline in audience interest. They’re spending $600 million upgrading the seating in 20% of their theaters to leather recliners. The hope is to draw moviegoers back from their couches and Netflix accounts, and after a year of unchanged prices (“to seed [consumer] behavior”) the ticket costs will go up to account for the rich Corinthian leather. As someone who sees audiences as the consistently worst part of the theater-going experience I’m no fan of this plan. Too many audience members already treat the theater like it’s their own living room — talking, using their cell phone, […]


AMC and Wanda

Her name is Wanda. Specifically, the Dalian Wanda Group, which just bought out AMC Entertainment Holdings for $2.6b. I’m guessing the card that gets me free movies for a year just expired. Not only is this the biggest Chinese-led buyout of an American-owned company in history, the deal also makes Wanda the biggest movie theater chain on the planet. That also means there’s no way to hyperbolize this. Wanda, which operates 730 screens (as well as corporate plazas, five-star hotels, department stores and karaoke centers) will take over AMC’s 346, officially making it the biggest. According to MSN Money, AMC was the #2 theater chain in the US behind Regal with $2.5b in sales, although the company has struggled to lose a large amount of debt it’s been carrying. Meanwhile, according to their website, Wanda has assets totaling $31b with an annual income of $17b. As movie fans, none of the numbers matter. What matters is the future of the theater chain. As of now, Wanda hasn’t announced any structural changes, but it’ll be interesting to see if they eventually decide to alter the audience experience in any meaningful way. In the meantime, let’s all laugh at the hilarious xenophobia of the MSN comments section.  


The Avengers

Say what you will about AMC theaters being one of the central powers in the heartless, corporate multiplex system that currently controls film exhibition in this country; over the past couple years they’ve really made an effort to put together some cool events that cater to film fans. Whether it’s their yearly marathons of the Best Picture Nominees, or special re-releases for classic films hitting anniversaries, or themed marathons promoting a big release, AMC proves that, even in the multiplex, love for the movies isn’t dead. And, you know, they have to be making profits off of these things or they wouldn’t keep doing them, but let’s focus on the love right now. Their latest marathon will be taking place on Thursday, May 3rd, in conjunction with the release of Marvel’s big tentpole feature The Avengers. Starting at 11:30 a.m. participating theaters will be running through all of the Marvel Studios movies that have become the build to The Avengers, all culminating with the midnight premiere of the new film. Keeping track of these superhero movies is hard though, and it feels like Samuel L. Jackson has showed up after the credits of half the movies released over the last few years, so exactly which movies will AMC be screening?



Back at the beginning of the summer a new service called MoviePass announced that it was going to be launching, first in the San Francisco area, and then expanding outward. What they planned to be was a subscription service, ala Netflix, where you pay a monthly fee of $50 and then get unlimited access to as many movie theater tickets as you want. It was a solid idea that I think could have gained a lot of traction, except for one thing; the MoviePass people didn’t really tell any of the theater chains that they were planning this. Almost immediately after the announced launch, AMC sent out a press release saying that they were going to have no part in the service. This effectively put the kibosh on a poorly thought out plan. That was a long time ago in Internet time, however, and now MoviePass is back, with a new partner, and a new plan for launch.



The Quintanilla family has a house in Sitges that they haven’t visited in a decade, so all five of them pack into the car and head up for the summer. The two teens have vague memories of the home from when they were much younger, but it’s the local legend of a ghostly girl in the forest that catches their attention. They document their exploration of the house and the giant maze attached to their back yard on video, and soon they’re hearing strange noises at night and seeing mysterious figures in woods. When their younger brother goes missing the family rushes into the maze to find him, and, well, let’s just say the Quintanillas can get by with a smaller Christmas tree this year. Atrocious is the bastard Spanish love-child of Blair Witch Project and Insidious, and yes, in that scenario Insidious is the male who donated little more than a genre and a one word adjective for a name. It falls victim to some of the same problems that plague most found footage films… namely a meandering first half, segments consisting of little more than the camera being shaken repeatedly, and the nagging question as to why these people are still filming, but it also creates and builds enough solid tension and legitimately frightening scenes to mark it as one of the better examples of the genre.



What do you call a zombie movie without zombies? The smart-asses among you will say 28 Days Later, but that at least had killer humans acting like zombies… no, I’m referring more to the idea and atmosphere of a zombie movie but without the actual brain-munching undead. What you’d have is the new, blackly comic, Argentinian thriller, Phase 7. Coco (Daniel Hendler) and his very pregnant wife Pipi (Jazmín Stuart) are shopping and bickering with love when the other customers around them start panicking and rushing the store. It’s a peripheral panic though as the couple barely notices the frenetic nature of their fellow city dwellers. At least not until they return home and see news that a global virus has spread to epidemic level and has finally reached their home of Buenos Aires. A quick trip down to the lobby late at night sees a neighbor being wheeled out and a plastic barrier going up… the building has been quarantined and the residents are trapped within.



We previously reported that The Undefeated, an emo band I used to go see in high school a documentary about Sarah Palin painting her as an underdog who fought against the system to rise to prominence in Alaska (and then, of course, to the national political stage), would be released in primary states leading up to the election. However, it looks like if you live in Dallas, Denver, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Atlanta, Orange County, Phoenix, Houston, Indianapolis or Kansas City (the good one), you’ll get your chance to see it as well. According to Politico, filmmaker Steve Bannon has signed with AMC Theaters to get the doc on the big screen in select cities July 15th. That makes it counter-programming for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Salvation Boulevard and the new Winnie The Pooh movie. Bannon told NPR that he sees people responding to the film as a Rocky style narrative. He also mentioned that his method is in the same vein as Michael Moore, calling the documentarian a “master of the craft” and saying that he was still learning it. The former Goldman Sachs employee might be newer to filmmaking, but he’s definitely chosen a compelling figure to focus on. No matter how you feel about the politician, she knows how to get a crowd gathered.



They say love is the international language, but while that’s a romantic notion there’s one thing that seems far more universal in its appeal and effect regardless of language or culture. One thing that guarantees a similar reaction and response, that curdles the blood regardless of nationality, that instills fear alongside a fight or flight mentality no matter where you live… and that’s mutterfuckin’ zombies. Michael comes to Berlin ostensibly to return some keys to the woman he loves, but he’s actually hoping to win her back. His estranged girlfriend, Gabi, left him after seven years to move to the big city, and their relationship went with her. Unfortunately, as with most things in Michael’s life apparently, his timing leaves a lot to be desired. He arrives in Berlin on the same day a zombie outbreak starts to spread throughout the city. And Gabi is nowhere to be found.


Viggo Mortensen in a scene from THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, 2001.

AMC Theaters have been doing a lot of promotional re-releases of films lately. They brought Back to the Future back to the theaters for its 25th anniversary, and then did the same for Top Gun a little bit later. They even screened 48-hour marathons of every Best Picture Nominee leading up to The Oscars. With all of the focus on huge blockbusters and opening weekend grosses that plagues the film industry these days, giving people the chance to see old favorites back up on the big screen is a pretty cool move from a corporation as huge as AMC. Their latest bit of promotion is for the Blu-Ray release of the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. On three subsequent Tuesdays leading up to the release of the discs, AMC will screen one of the films, in their full extended versions, at select theaters. The Fellowship of the Ring will play on June 14th, The Two Towers on June 21st, and Return of the King on June 28th.



In order to make sure everyone is up to speed with the nominees by the time the Academy Awards are broadcast on February 27th, many of AMC’s theaters are screening marathons of all ten films that are up for best picture over the next two Saturdays. This Saturday, the 19th, they will be screening Toy Story 3, 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right, True Grit, and The Fighter. Next Saturday, the 26th, they will show Winter’s Bone, Black Swan, Inception, The Social Network, and The King’s Speech. A two day pass to see all 10 films will run you $60 and a one day pass to see either set of five will be $35. In addition to this, fifteen participating theaters will be doing a marathon of all 10 films starting at 10 am on the 26th and spanning to well into the morning on Oscar Sunday. Tickets to the 24-hour marathon will go for $50.

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published: 02.01.2015
published: 01.31.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015

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