Movie theater chain and so-called meme stock AMC announced Monday that it’s working to let customers use bitcoin this year to buy tickets and concessions when purchased online.
CEO Adam Aron made the announcement on a conference call Monday evening with analysts to discuss the company’s second-quarter earnings report.
Aron said the movie theater chain will have the technology systems in place to accept the cryptocurrency as payment by the end of the year, as well as payment options such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.
“AMC is hereby formally announcing on this call that by year end, we will have the information technology systems in place to accept bitcoin as payment for movie tickets and concessions if purchased online at all of our US theaters,” he said.
“These new payment methodologies for us should also be implemented by year end,” he said.
Shares of AMC surged more than 7 percent in premarket trading Monday before leveling out later in the day.
The announcement marks an alliance of two of the most speculative assets of the year — cryptocurrencies and meme stocks. So-called meme stocks are usually struggling but well-known businesses that have seen their shares skyrocket thanks to interest by an army of retail traders that began playing the stock market during the pandemic on no-commission trading platforms like Robinhood.
Meme stock traders famously targeted GameStop earlier this year and have hit other stocks like Nokia and Bed, Bath and Beyond. Generally speaking, meme stocks are stocks that institutional investors like hedge funds have bet would decline in value.
Traders of AMC call themselves “apes” and have a huge and passionate base on social media, including Twitter and Reddit. They affectionally refer to AMC’s Aron as “silverback.”
Similar to meme stocks, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have seen wild price swings this year. In April, the price of bitcoin reached as high as nearly $65,000 per coin before tumbling down below $30,000 per coin last month.
Bitcoin was last seen trading at about $45,400 per coin, according to data from Coinbase.
On top of AMC’s bitcoin announcement, the company also reported a narrower-than-expected loss for the quarter.
By the end of June, all of AMC’s theaters in the US and nearly all of its international theaters were open.
With some new movies making their debuts, customers are returning to movie theaters, but not in the huge crowds that would make struggling theater chains profitable.
AMC saw 22 million guests in its theaters during the second quarter, the company said, up from 7 million in the prior quarter. But that’s way below the 97 million tickets it sold in the second quarter of 2019, before the pandemic.
“We are not taking a victory lap … We are still losing money; we are still burning cash,” Aron said Monday evening. “But we can see a light at the end of the tunnel.”