AMC Theatres, officially known as AMC Entertainment Inc., is the second largest movie theater chain in North America and one of only three (National Amusements, Inc. & Cinemark Theaters being the others) of the 12 largest on the continent that did not go bankrupt during the 2001-2002 recession, due in part to the fact that its theaters often dominate lists of the top 50 most profitable theaters in North America. Its mascot is the animated filmstrip Clip who has starred in the pre-show policy trailers since 1991. It is also the only movie theater aside from Regal Entertainment Group that has locations in both the United States and Canada. Within the United Kingdom, France, and Hong Kong the chain is known as AMC Cinemas. Within Spain the chain was known as AMC Cines.
The company was founded in 1920 by the Dubinsky Brothers (Maurice, Edward and Barney) who had been traveling the Midwest performing melodramas and tent shows with actress Jeanne Eagels. They purchased the Regent Theatre on 12th Street between Walnut and Grand in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
The Dubinskys eventually changed their name to Durwood and the company was called Durwood Theatres.
He renamed Durwood Theatres to "American Multi-Cinema, Inc.", and began to apply military management and the insights of management science to revolutionize the movie theatre industry. As he later explained to Variety, "We needed to define what our company was doing in the (exhibition) business. My dad wasn't that organized.
It was founded on the belief that every "guest" (as AMC calls them) was to be treated first.
In 1963, AMC opened the two-screen Parkway Twin in a shopping center on Kansas City's Ward Parkway. Durwood later claimed that "in 1962 he was standing in the lobby of his 600-seat Roxy in Kansas City mulling over its poor grosses when he realized he could double his box office by adding a second screen and still operate with the same size staff." This insight arises from the fact that the real-time labor demands of a movie theatre are not constant. Rather, they come in bursts at the start and end of the movie. At the start, a large number of employees have to sell tickets, process tickets at an access point, sell food at the concession stand (a theatre's primary profit center), make sure the theatre is not overcrowded, and run the film projector. While the movie plays, a small number of employees are needed for security and access control, while the others are relatively idle, allowing them to restock concession items, clean restrooms, and clean the lobby. At the end of the movie, a number of employees are needed to clean the theatre for the next showing. When the start times for movie showings in several physically connected auditoriums are staggered correctly, one team can continually keep all of them operational with minimal downtime. An additional advantage is that a different movie can be shown in each auditorium, which increases the choices available at a theatre's box office at any given time, and minimizes the possibility that disappointed moviegoers will take their business to a different theatre altogether.
In retrospect, Durwood's idea seems simple, but it took a lot of trial and error to get the bugs out. For example, when the Parkway Twin opened, both screens were showing the same movie, The Great Escape. Next, Durwood followed up on the Parkway Twin with a four-screen theatre in 1966 and a six-screen theatre in 1969.
AMC pioneered the first North American megaplex when it opened the AMC Grand 24 in Dallas, Texas, in 1995, though the first megaplex in the world had been built by European chain Kinepolis in 1988. AMC has continued to open megaplex theaters and now operates the busiest theater in the country at the AMC Empire 25 theater in New York City, New York, located in Times Square.
In the 1980s, AMC built and operated a number of multiplex ten-screen cinemas in the UK, including sites at locations such as Dudley and Tamworth. These were subsequently bought and taken over by UCI. In January 2002, the 16-screen Great Northern was opened in Manchester, which was later supplemented by the opening of a 12-screen cinema on the Broadway Plaza site in Birmingham in October 2003. United Kingdom outlets serve a dual function, they also cater to business conferences and companies can display spreadsheets and other things through a projector onto the cinema screen, this is in addition to the normal cinema functions.
AMC also created the MovieWatcher program that rewards frequent movie-goers. Similar to other rewards programs, but featuring innovative restrictions. It is based on points per movie ticket purchased, with rewards varying from concessions to movie passes based on point level. However, you can only receive a maximum of four points per three hour time period - which is two tickets.
AMC has also had some endeavors that didn not prove as viable, such as experimenting with 16 mm film for projection and selling microwave popcorn at concession stands through a small test in the South several years ago. They also stumbled by agreeing to install the Sony Dynamic Digital Sound system in all their new locations, rather than the more popular Dolby Digital or DTS systems. While the majority of major releases have all three digital tracks, including SDDS, most independent and smaller-budgets films only have Dolby Digital tracks, leaving many films in AMC's otherwise ultra-modern megaplexes showing films in analog sound. Recently, AMC has begun installing Dolby Digital in all new auditoriums, and in 2003 began upgrading selected older auditoriums.
The company has interests in 358 theaters with 5,128 screens in six countries. Some of the U.S. theaters are named for basketball legend and businessman Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who became a partner of Loews in the mid-1990s.
The company has theaters in the United States and Canada. In addition the company operates two cinemas in the United Kingdom (in Birmingham and Manchester), one cinema in Dunkirk, France, and one in Hong Kong, People's Republic of China. AMC used to operate theaters in Brazil, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and Uruguay.
The company's flagship theater is the AMC Empire 25 in New York, New York (as mentioned above, consistently rated the busiest theater in the world by AC Neilsen-EDI box office tracking.) The company's marquee theater is the AMC Studio 30 in Kansas City, Missouri, which is nearby the company's world headquarters dubbed the 'AMC Home Office'.
In 2006, the company announced a new IPO expected to be worth approximately $789 million, however, adverse market conditions convinced the company's management to withdraw from such an offering on May 3, 2007.