Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The saga of the “American Houdini” so that movie theaters do not disappear

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At 116, the cinema it became a monotonous industry, most of the time.

Tickets are sold. Images are projected onto a screen, sometimes in 3D. From time to time, cinema networks averse to change are excited about some innovation. The cinema chair cup holder, for example, was patented in 1981.

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But we are not living in normal times for cinemas. Just ask Adam Aron.

A year ago, Aron, who runs AMC Entertainment, the largest multiplex network in the world, was especially excited about his obsolete business. Even with the proliferation of streaming services – and the drop in the number of viewers in the U.S. – cinemas around the world raised a record $ 42.5 billion in 2019. “We will see dramatic growth in audience size in a not-too-distant future in the United States, ”he said emphatically at the end of February 2020.

In mid-March 2020, the coronavirus forced Aron to license 35,000 employees, including himself, and to close all AMC cinemas: 10,700 screens in 15 countries. As the coronavirus peaked, cooled and spread again, AMC reopened most of the cinemas, closed many of them again, and recently opened some addresses again. To keep the indebted network alive, Aron and his chief financial officer, Sean Goodman, who had joined AMC a few months before the crisis, took several financial jumps, narrowly escaping bankruptcy on four occasions in just nine months. AMC raised more than US $ 1 billion in investments and obtained an additional US $ 1 billion in subsequent payment arrangements for renting rooms.

This was one of the largest corporate roller coasters in pandemic, putting pressure on chief executives from all sectors. And the problem is not over yet.

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The saga of the “American Houdini” so that movie theaters do not disappear