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COVID-19 “destroyed" the movie industry says AMC boss (but there's hope)

It's been a rough few years for movie theaters

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Image credit: Karen Zhao (Unsplash)

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AMC CEO Adam Aron thinks things are looking up for the future of the movie theater industry. Though Aron has found himself in quite a few tangles in the past few years as the theater chain struggled through the pandemic and the short squeeze of AMC stock driven by Reddit-driven investing 2021, he does believe things are getting better. On a CinemaCon thinktank panel moderated by Puck’s Matthew Belloni, Aron addressed the question of whether or not the basic business model of movie theaters is broken. Aron answered, “[COVID] destroyed our industry, not forever, but for a little while.”

Aron continued, "In my mind, the business model has been broken for four years now. I say that because a lot of other industries have come back from COVID more quickly [than movies] have.”

Despite all of that doom-and-gloom, things are looking up. At least, Aron thinks so, sharing, “this is the first time that in the year coming, not ‘24, but [in] ‘25 and ‘26, I think our industry is going to be strong and robust again.” Aron's reasoning is driven by a recent trip to the movie studios and the forthcoming slates he saw. “I do believe, I really think the good times are ahead.”

Related: How the shape of your movie theater affects clarity of sound, and other notes from CinemaCon

Over the course of the panel, Aron continuously drove attention to the fact that while the box office has been down, there have been a lot fewer movies released these past few years, arguing that if more movies come out, the box office will grow.

When asked by Belloni what would happen if the box office doesn't grow to pre-pandemic levels, Aron answered that there would not be enough money going into theaters for them to survive, and that theaters would be forced to turn to other strategies, including asking for a higher split in profits with studios or dealing with high rents, which are currently a large burden on theaters..

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