AMC will begin accepting Bitcoin payments for concessions and theater tickets as soon as the end of the year, marking the latest development in AMC’s hard lean into memestock superstardom.
During the company’s second-quarter earnings call on Monday, AMC boss Adam Aron kicked off the Bitcoin bullet point by noting, unsurprisingly, that many of AMC’s new shareholders “are quite enthusiastic about cryptocurrency.” (If you’ve been following along with the memestock drama at home, this should come as absolutely no surprise.) He added that the company will have the technology systems in place to accept Bitcoin by the end of 2021. Bitcoin payments will have to be made online but will be widely supported across all of AMC’s US theaters.
Bitcoin may not be the only cryptocurrency the company accepts in the long run, though. Aron said the company is exploring other crypto avenues as well.
“We also are in the preliminary stage of now exploring how else AMC can participate in this new burgeoning cryptocurrency universe, and we’re quite intrigued by a potentially lucrative business opportunity for AMC if we intelligently pursue serious further involvement with cryptocurrency,” Aron said. He added that further plans about the theater chain’s crypto strategy would be shared publicly when they’re more concrete.
AMC is interested in pursuing “serious further involvement with cryptocurrency”
One explanation for the shift to Bitcoin may be Aron’s involvement with the quantum encryption startup Arqit. “I’ve had to learn more in the last six months about blockchain and cryptocurrency than I learned about in the entire decade before that,” he said of sitting on the board of Centricus Acquisition Corp., which is under contract to buy the company.
Another explanation might be AMC’s warm embrace of its memestock shareholders. Following GameStop’s stock surge powered by Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets earlier this year, the subreddit set its sights on the beleaguered theater chain. The surge in trading at the time was so unprecedented that Robinhood and more traditional financial companies like TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab temporarily barred new trades for AMC along with GameStop.
In addition to committing to crypto payments, Aron said AMC is currently working on Apple Pay and Google Pay options as well for its US theaters. Those, too, should be introduced by the end of the year, the AMC chief said.
AMC’s plans for its future sound aspirational to say the least. Aron said the theater chain would like to screen sporting events at its cinemas, both at the professional and collegiate levels. The company hopes to “engage in meaningful dialogue” with leagues and conferences to obtain the rights to stream these games.
Aron said the company is open to exploring potential opportunities with GameStop
Lastly, AMC’s board of directors includes Adam Sussman, the president of Epic Games. Aron said on the call he “cannot even count the number of times already” he’s been asked by shareholders to partner with GameStop — lord of the memestonks — on gaming opportunities.
“We’re on the case,” Aron said, “more to come.”
AMC’s second quarter was “transformational,” Aron said in a statement, buoyed primarily by $1.25 billion in new equity capital. The company believes that this injection of funds should give the company the “financial staying power to navigate boldly amidst coronavirus waters,” Aron added. The company is still losing money and burning cash, but Aron said the company is “on a path to recovery.”
While the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread and complicates any return to normalcy in the immediate future, the company remains optimistic about the future of theatrical and its ability to claw its way back to financial stability.
“We’re not out of the woods yet. We do still live in a COVID-infected world,” Aron said. “But fortunately, we can see a light at the end of this tunnel.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated Aron served on the board of directors for Arqit. He serves on the board for Centricus Acquisition Corp., which is under contract to buy Arqit.
— With files from theverge.com Press