CEO Adam Aron told investors on AMC’s earnings conference call that month that the company planned to open up popcorn kiosks at retailers this year to take advantage of the fact that “we have terrific long-standing business relationships with the biggest and best mall operators around. ”
Aron added that AMC was in discussions to start selling an AMC-branded line of microwave popcorn and also partner with food delivery services to make its popcorn a take-out option.
AMC said in an email to CNN Business it had no further comment about the Copaken hiring or plans to expand its popcorn business.
But AMC’s decision to go all-in on popcorn outside the theater is a bold call. In some respects, it’s an admission that the movie industry has fundamentally changed.
Although viewers are still willing to go out to see big blockbusters like “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in theaters, the combination of the pandemic and an abundance of streaming options have led to a change in consumer habits.
More to AMC than big screens at the multiplex
AMC, to its credit, is trying to adapt to this new reality. In addition to its popcorn plans, the company also announced in November that it hopes to profit from strong demand for cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the digital assets which have taken the collectibles world by storm.
“This is the 21st century after all, and it would seem that there may be a real opportunity for AMC in these areas,” Aron said.
Aron noted that the company is looking into partnerships that would let it accept cryptocurrencies as payment for movie tickets and concession stand items. AMC is even thinking about launching its own cryptocurrency.
Aron added that the theater chain is “in conversation with multiple major Hollywood studios about the concept of joint venturing commemorative NFTs related to major film titles that show in our theaters.”
These are some of the reasons why investors, particularly meme stock fans on Reddit, have fallen in love with AMC. They appreciate that Aron is thinking outside the (popcorn) box.
It’s also not certain that AMC will be able to make a huge tooth in the retail popcorn market.
Analysts aren’t fans of the stock either. According to Refinitiv, three analysts have AMC rated a hold and six are recommending a sell. No analysts surveyed have a buy on the stock and the consensus price target is about $10.45 a share, nearly 50% below current levels.
But it may be a mistake to count AMC out. An army of individual investors still love to rankle Wall Street pros and short sellers who bet against the stock.