AMC Entertainment chairman and CEO Adam Aron says the movie theater chain welcomed back approximately 40 million visitors in the U.S., Europe and Middle East in the third quarter thanks to an "increasingly appealing film slate", rising COVID-19 vaccinations, a commitment to robust health and safety protocols and "greatly increased marketing activity."
"These guests generated significant revenue per patron growth, which when combined with our cost control efforts, generated financial results that were well ahead of market expectations," Aron said in a third quarter earnings statement on Monday.
As of Sept. 30, AMC has opened all of its domestic theater locations and approximately 99% of its international theater locations, the highest numbers since the fourth quarter of 2019.
Third quarter revenue came in at $763.2 million, up from $119.5 million for the same period a year ago, with admissions revenue totaling $425.1 million, up from $62.9 million a year ago. AMC narrowed its third quarter net losses from $905.8 million a year ago, or $8.41 per share, to a loss of $224.2 million, or 44 cents per share, an improvement of $681.6 million.
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As of the end of the third quarter, AMC has more than $1.8 billion in liquidity, including cash and undrawn revolving credit lines at near-record levels. AMC does not anticipate having to borrow under its lines of credit in the next 12 months. Aron noted the strong liquidity position provides a foundation for AMC to "innovate" and "imaginatively grow and diversify" its business.
AMC has already started offering alternative programming, such as live sporting events, and acquired new theater leases. The company has also announced plans to accept Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash by the end of the year for online ticket and concessions purchases and began accepting Dogecoin for digital gift card purchases.
Aron told analysts on the company's third quarter earnings call Monday that AMC is reviewing whether it will add Shiba Inu to its accepted cryptocurrency list and exploring the feasibility of potentially launching its own cryptocurrency.
AMC is also in conversations with multiple major Hollywood studios about the concept of joint commemorative non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, related to major film titles and discussions with several of the major credit card-issuing banks about the possibility of an AMC-branded credit card.
In addition to its rebound in attendance and better than expected third quarter results, Aron said that the company is encouraged by its fourth quarter 2021 results so far, with October 2021 theater admissions revenues almost 90% of October 2019 levels and the highest of any month since before the company's COVID-19-induced closures.
"However, even amidst such good news, we are not yet where we want and need to be," he warned. "We wish to emphasize that no one should have any illusions that there is not more challenge ahead of us still to be met. The virus continues to be with us, we need to sell more tickets in future quarters than we did in the most recent quarter, and adjusted EBITDA is still well below pre-pandemic levels."
The third quarter of 2021 marked the largest domestic industry box office of the year at nearly $1.4 billion, according to Aron, up 66% compared to the second quarter and up 486% compared to the first quarter. AMC is forecasting, based on a fourth quarter domestic box office forecast of approximately $2 billion, that its adjusted EBITDA and operating cash burn will turn positive in the upcoming quarter.