AMC theater chain warns that it may not survive disruption from coronavirus pandemic

AMC theater chain warns that it may not survive disruption from coronavirus pandemic

AMC, the world's largest movie theater chain, warned Wednesday that it may not survive the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The company issued the warning in a public filing, saying that that crisis has significantly undermined its finances and introduced profound uncertainty about its future.

To be sure, the statement does not guarantee that AMC will go out of business. The so-called "going concern" warning is typically required of publicly traded companies that are facing dire circumstances that jeopardize their business, though many live on.

One possibility is that AMC could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection but emerge as a sustainable business.

The company has been forced to temporarily close all of its theaters through at least late June.

As a result, "we are generating no revenue from admissions, food and beverage sales, or other revenue, which represent substantially all of our revenue and cash flow from operations," AMC Entertainment Holdings said in the public filing. "We cannot predict when or if our business will return to normal levels."

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Future closures are possible depending on how the pandemic plays out, the company acknowledged.

Cost cuts may not be enough to stabilize the business, AMC said.

"We cannot be certain that we will have access to sufficient liquidity to meet our obligations for the time required to allow our cash generating operations to resume or normalize," AMC said. "We may not be able to obtain additional liquidity and any relief provided by lenders, governmental agencies, and business partners may not be adequate and may include onerous terms. Due to these factors, substantial doubt exists about our ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time."

AMC 14 in Saratoga. An exterior shot of the theater at night.

One problem is that even after theaters reopen, "a single case of COVID-19 in a theatre could result in additional costs and further closures," the company said, "or a 'second wave' or recurrence of COVID-19 cases could cause another widespread suspension of operations."

Other issues include a lack of availability of films due to delays in release dates, production suspensions and the possibility that studios will increasingly bypass theaters to place movies directly on streaming services.

AMC also expects increased operating costs when it reopens due to the need to implement heightened cleaning measures.

The warning came after rumors emerged in May that online retail and tech giant Amazon had held talks with AMC about a possible deal.

CFRA Research stock analyst Tuna Amobi, who tracks AMC, said in a May 11 report that "we would be surprised if the parties can come to terms in the current environment."

AMC, which is controlled by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda, had 966 theaters with 10,973 screens in 15 countries as of March 31, including locations in 44 states plus the District of Columbia.

Cinemark, another major movie chain, plans to begin reopening U.S. movie theaters on June 19. It said in a Wednesday filing that it believes it has enough cash to last it the rest of the year, even if its theaters remain shut.

Contributing: AP

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.


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