For better or worse, AMC Theatres has fully thrown itself behind the identity of its meme-fueled internet investors. As the stock price continues to surge to new highs this week, driven by speculative trading centered around the reddit community of r/wallstreetbets, it seems clear to just about anyone with eyes that AMC’s valuation is based on just about anything but its actual movie theater businesses at this point. Still, it’s not as if AMC executives are complaining. In fact, the massive surge was just what AMC needed in order to raise funds and get to business after the pandemic, prospectively allowing them to get the jump on competitors such as Regal in their reopenings.
Now, in order to reward and additionally court those online retail investors, AMC has debuted a new website called AMC Investor Connect, which is intended to be a direct line of communication between shareholders and the company—including messages from CEO Adam Aron. Stockholders who sign up will immediately be rewarded with a free large popcorn at AMC theaters, and the program promises such perks as exclusive screenings and discounts.
AMC stock was a secondary target during the initial r/wallstreetbets mania a few months ago, which primarily revolved around an attempted short squeeze on Gamestop stock, but AMC has now taken the highest level of visibility. Its stock price has surged this week, quadrupling in the last month to around $40 per share—up more than 1,400% in the last five months. The company is now majority owned by retail investors, with about 80% of the 450 million outstanding shares being held by individual shareholders.
AMC’s savvy (or cynical) CEO, Aron, didn’t waste much time in embracing the absurdity of the situation, playing into the memes that surround these online investors through such announcements as the company’s intent to donate $50,000 to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund—a transparent reference to the r/wallstreetbets investors, who lovingly refer to each other as “apes.” Rather than remain wary of investors who were primarily driven by a “get rich quick” mentality, AMC has demonstrated that they don’t really seem to mind where the money is coming from, as long as it continues to roll in.
“During my five-plus year tenure as CEO at AMC, I’ve taken great pride in the relationships I have forged with AMC’s owners,” said Aron in a Wednesday statement. “With AMC Investor Connect, that effort in relationship building will continue apace even if our shareholders now number in the millions. After all, these people are the owners of AMC, and I work for them.”