AMC CEO Says Only “Very Prolonged” Strike Would Impact Theaters; Chain To Start Its Own Candy Label

AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron said the giant movie theater chain will start making its own candy line that will be cheaper for patrons, and for the company, given price hike by sweets manufacturers post-Covid.

“We noticed, as a result of the pandemic and supply chain shortages, that candy manufacturers had increased their prices to us by a huge amount (some by over 30%). That got us thinking very hard about our candy, and we realized that we could manufacture a private label brand of candy to very high quality standards, price it less expensively than our current candy is priced, and have a higher profit margin,” Aron said on a call today after strong quarterly earnings.

The company recently rolled out its new AMC Perfectly Popcorn brand at over 2,000 Walmart stores. It just launched an AMC-branded Visa card. These add-ons to its core business come as the box office is rebounding. Aron was exuberant about the recovery and slate of films but noted AMC is still awaiting a greenlight from Delaware Chancery Court that would allow the company to raise cash if it needs to. With the recovery still underway, he’ll wait to celebrate until that happens and the company has the ability to sell shares to raise cash — for operations, debt reduction, M&A, and building or buying new theaters.

Meanwhile, he hopes to introduce AMC candy in late 2023 or early 2024. The chain will still carry branded candy “for people who want it.”

Aron, asked about the WGA strike, said it would have to be quite prolonged to impact the movie slate this year and next.

“We are very sympathetic to the real problem that exists for members of the writer’s guild. Streaming has changed the landscape of television and shaped the economics of what writers earn. We are hopeful that the Hollywood producers and the writer’s guild can work in good faith to craft a solution that is good for all parties.”

“As far as its impact on AMC and the movie industry, if this is a short strike — I don’t mean days, I mean months – its impact will mostly be felt on television programming, because the movies for ‘23 and ‘24 have pretty much been written, in many cases they’ve already been filmed, and I think only a very prolonged writers’ strike would have a material impact.”

The WGA contract expired Sunday at midnight and writers have been picketing all week and plan to continue. The contracts for the DGA and SAG-AFTRA don’t expire until June 30. As Deadline reported, studios have figured out workarounds: a handful of tentpole productions are shooting overseas where there isn’t a heavy Teamsters presence, and the possibility of a shoot closing is less likely. Furthermore, studios have either locked scripts for productions, or have gotten sign-off on not having a scribe on set.

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