AMC Entertainment Holdings has decided not to move forward with its premium-priced seating rollout in movie theaters. The company announced that the pricing plan, which charged higher prices for the best seats, will not be continued at test theaters and will not be introduced nationwide.
The decision came after tests of AMC’s Sightline program, which revealed that more than three out of four people who previously purchased tickets for preferred seat sections opted to remain in those sections despite a slightly higher price. The tests also showed that over one in ten people chose to buy tickets outside of the preferred seating areas at no additional charge. Interestingly, there was little to no increase in patronage of front row seating, where ticket prices are lower.
Instead of pursuing the controversial pricing plan, AMC plans to attract patrons to the front row by improving the seating experience with larger seats and more extensive recliners. The company envisions creating large, comfortable lounge-style seating areas that allow guests to fully recline and relax. Additionally, the angle of the seats will enhance the movie-watching experience from these front row seats closest to the screen.
AMC’s initial plans to charge more for certain seats received significant backlash online when they were announced. The theater operator, like many others in the industry, is trying to recover from the impact of the pandemic and the resulting financial challenges. AMC managed to raise cash by selling stocks, taking advantage of the surge in share prices driven by retail investors. The company has become known as a meme stock, attracting an online community of investors who hold onto shares and engage in social media banter with short sellers betting against the stock.
Following this announcement, AMC stock experienced a slight decline in after-hours trading. However, it has seen a 6.4% increase year-to-date despite a 59% decrease over the past 12 months.