AMC Entertainment shines when the lights go down. As the #2 movie theater chain in the US (behind Regal Entertainment), the company owns, partially owns, or operates about 360 theaters with 5,200 screens, most of which are in megaplexes (units with more than 14 screens and stadium seating). Nearly all of its theaters can be found throughout the US and Canada, though it does have about a dozen theaters in China (Hong Kong), France, and the UK. The firm also owns about 25% of MovieTickets.com. The company bought rival Loews Cineplex in 2006, significantly boosting its holdings. In 2010 AMC filed an IPO, its third attempt at a public offering since the mid-2000s.
The company's latest attempt at an IPO comes after new 3D and digital formats are bringing more audiences to the movies. AMC plans to raise up to $450 million in the offering. After a slight delay, in 2011 AMC said it would continue with its IPO plans, and will use the proceeds to pay off debt to backers such as Apollo Management LP, The Carlyle Group, Bain Capital, JPMorgan, and Spectrum Equity Investors. (Previously AMC withdrew an IPO in 2008 while the economy was crashing; it attempted to raise $500 million through the offering after a string of hits at the summer 2007 box office. AMC first listed for an IPO that decade in 2006, hoping to raise $750 million. Investors shunned the $17-a-share asking price, and the company withdrew that IPO in 2007.)
AMC generates about 70% of its revenue from ticket sales, while more than 25% comes from the concession stand. The company also sells digitally projected on-screen advertising and pre-show entertainment videos through its National CineMedia joint venture with Regal and Cinemark. In 2010 AMC reported a jump in net income (nearly $80 million) compared to a net loss (of about $149 million) the prior year. Gains in 2010 were primarily the result of selling more tickets to IMAX and 3D movies, while the loss in 2009 was mainly due to impairment charges related to poor performance, causing certain assets to drop in value that year.
The company is in the process of converting all of its theaters to digital cinema. It's a bit of a daunting challenge for AMC since by mid-2010 it had only installed 650 digital projectors. It hopes to have installed more than 3,800 digital projectors by the end of fiscal year 2012. To make the conversion more fiscally palatable, it leases the digital projectors from Digital Cinema Implementation Partners, a joint venture with rivals Cinemark and Regal.
In addition to total digital conversion, AMC is also busy upgrading to other popular technologies that allow theaters to charge higher ticket prices. The company is the largest IMAX exhibitor in the world with about 100 screens; it expects to increase its IMAX screen count to nearly 130 by the end of fiscal year 2012. AMC additionally has a partnership with RealD to install their 3D systems in its theaters. It has about 810 3D-enabled systems, and plan on having about 1,300 RealD screens by the end of fiscal year 2011. In addition, it launched a new proprietary large-screen digital format, ETX, at 11 locations during 2010 and 2011.
AMC also added more locations to its holdings in 2010 through an acquisition. It purchased more than 90 movie houses from Kerasotes ShowPlace Theatres, boosting its estate to more than 5,200 screens. A majority of the former Kerasotes properties feature stadium seating, and nearly 90% were built in the years since 1994. To satisfy anti-trust regulators, AMC sold nine theaters to rival Regal Entertainment for about $275 million.
In 2009 Gerardo Lopez became CEO of the company. A former executive at Starbucks, Lopez replaced the retiring Peter Brown, who had been with the theater chain for nearly 20 years.