Dear AMC Theatres, Just Sit Down And Stop Trying To Flex

Dear AMC Theatres,

I honestly didn’t think I’d be writing this letter to you. Quite frankly, I figured my next letter would be aimed at the studios. After all, in their never-ending chase for the almighty dollar, we’ve seen some stupid decisions. But here you came in and proved yourselves to be just as shortsighted as they are. In this case, even more shortsighted.

I’ll start off by being a bit more understanding. I get it. Times are tough. The world did not foresee just how all-encompassing the pandemic. Many of us thought it was overblown. That the media was out of control. That this would be Ebola all over again. But that wasn’t the case, and the net result is billions of dollars lost in the film industry. Studios have pushed their releases, with some even opting to experiment with digital releases of smaller projects. Theaters like you were already having a hard enough time as it was, and with Universal releasing Trolls World Tour, you saw it as a threat to your livelihood.

It probably also sucked that the movie didn’t flounder. It thrived. Yes, it only made $100 million in rentals, but with that lower figure, it still managed to net Universal more revenue than its $346-million predecessor. I think that goes to show us one sad fact.

AMC Theatres, your business model is becoming outdated. 

Us nerds may love the idea of going to theaters, but you have real competition. Between streaming movies, TV, and video games, it’s becoming harder for you to compete. In spite of the huge blockbusters, the box office has continued to shrink — even prior to the pandemic.

And yet you had the gall to flex against Universal. To basically banish guaranteed moneymakers like F9: The Fast Saga and Jurassic World: Dominion. If you were in a better position, perhaps I’d understand. If theaters really did make the industry go ‘round, I may be on your side. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

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I’ll go ahead and tell you something you already know. Movie studios don’t need you to survive. As Universal has already proven, they can reach a wide audience and make a hefty profit releasing their projects on VOD. But movie theaters? Movie theaters need studios. Straight-up. We know theaters don’t make much off of their movies, and that they make most money off overpriced concessions.

And that’s okay. Many of us have come to terms with the fact that you have to overcharge food to make a profit. But it’s still very telling that just a few months into a shutdown, you can barely stay afloat. 

We’ve been reading the news. We know you’re in dire straits and that you’ve barely avoided bankruptcy. Now isn’t the time to scold a major studio and threaten not to show your movies. That’s basically cutting off your nose to spite your face. You’re only cutting into your own potential bottom line just because Universal did something that annoyed you. That the studio actually tried something different that could push the industry in a bold direction. They are doing what theaters should be doing. They are adapting to this new world we live in. 

Instead, you have stooped to threatening the very hand that feeds you. It reeks of desperation.

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In your defense, I can understand your frustration and fear. I can also understand that Universal made this move without so much as a heads-up, which sucks. But if your business is such that you can’t survive without studios bending over backwards to incorporate you into their strategy, maybe that simply means your business isn’t worth it.

In the world of capitalist America, the almighty dollar is what speaks loudest. Fans will ultimately decide whether or not they value movie theaters, not you. Perhaps keep that in mind and work to change your own business practices first rather than twisting the arm of a partner to keep things exactly the same.

Just some food for thought, AMC Theatres.

Written with love,

Some idiot on the internet who doesn’t know what he’s talking about (aka Joseph Jammer Medina).

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Joseph Jammer Medina

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and contributor at LRM Online. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.

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