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Memorial Day Ticket Surge Points To Movie Theater Revival

Movie ticket sales posted strong gains over Memorial Day weekend, coming in at nearly $100M nationwide. The total is less than half of the total for the holiday weekend in 2019 ($232M), but the recent numbers are the best performance at the box office since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, CNBC reports.


The heightened ticket sales point to a revival for the movie industry and theater space that mostly went dark during much of 2020, and a boost in moviegoers would be important to the financial health of nearby retailers.

“The demand for theatrical experiences has returned even as some movie theaters in the country continue to operate under certain restrictions,” JPMorgan analyst Alexia Quadrani said in a note on Tuesday, as reported by CNBC.

In 2019, U.S. theaters sold 1.22 billion tickets and pulled in $11.2B, according to The Numbers, a movie industry data site. In 2020, theaters sold 223.8  million tickets and took in about $2B at the box office, much of that before the pandemic. Already this year, 182 million tickets have been sold, pulling in $1.6B.

Movie theater chain AMC, which was buffeted particularly hard by the pandemic but which has survived, says it may sell as many as 11.5 million shares to raise capital, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing, which doesn't represent a plan to sell stock but instead points to the mere possibility, also warned investors about volatility.

"We believe that the recent volatility and our current market prices reflect market and trading dynamics unrelated to our underlying business, or macro or industry fundamentals, and we do not know how long these dynamics will last," the filing said. "Under the circumstances, we caution you against investing in our Class A common stock, unless you are prepared to incur the risk of losing all or a substantial portion of your investment."

The filing could be a way for the company to capitalize on the volatility caused by short squeezes and social media, Yahoo Finance reports. As the price of stock rises because of extraneous factors such as social media, the cost of raising capital through a stock offering falls.

Alamo Drafthouse, a smaller chain of movie theaters that serves food and alcohol during its movies, has emerged from bankruptcy and is planning to open five new theaters, including ones in Manhattan and Washington, D.C. Altamont Capital Partners, funds managed by Fortress Investment Group and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League have acquired the chain amid its bankruptcy.

Alamo Drafthouse also reported its biggest box office weekend since the pandemic began, Deadline reports, including sellouts each day from Friday to Monday for all of the films at the chain's recently reopened Los Angeles location.