The past year has been tough on so many people. In the US alone (the rest of the world has been in a similar situation, of course), more than 500,000 people have died, businesses have been shut down (with many never reopening), and millions have lost their jobs, all the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s response to the deadly virus. When you look at the film industry, studios have suffered major losses because productions have been delayed and theaters have been shut down (for the most part) since last March. And the theater companies, even the biggest chain in the world, AMC Theatres, have been struggling to keep the lights on as locations remain shut down and others find it difficult to attract customers. You wouldn’t think now would be the best time to hand out millions in bonuses, right? Well, you’d be wrong.
According to a recent financial report (via Deadline), AMC Theatres has handed out bonuses for some of its high-level executives. The biggest bonus is going to the CEO, Adam Aron, who is collecting $3.75 million in addition to whatever he earns normally. Remember, this is a time when a huge number of AMC employees are still not working (and many won’t ever return to the company). This is also an unprecedented moment in the theatrical release industry where most are just trying to stay open and are pulling out all the stops to try to figure out how to attract customers. And let’s not forget, this comes on the heels of AMC having to land a massive amount of funding to prevent bankruptcy, just a few weeks ago. All that to say, it’s not a great look for the CEO of a company that has been in dire straits since last spring to take home nearly $4 million in bonus money.
Now, to quickly play Devil’s advocate, Aron is the CEO that has prevented AMC Theatres from filing bankruptcy. So, if you’re one of those “glass half full” people, that’s your best argument. He also did negotiate a deal with Universal to shorten the exclusivity window and ensure that the studio would still provide films (somewhat) during the pandemic. Although, you could argue that was bound to happen anyway.
It’s just difficult to understand why AMC Theatres would think it’s a good idea to give $3.75 million to an executive when the exhibition industry is in such flux. And again, it’s not like AMC has been doing well. The company was struggling to stay relevant even before the pandemic, as we saw theater chains continue on a downward trend.
So, congratulations, Adam Aron for receiving a bonus. If someone offers $3.75 million, it’s hard to turn that down in any situation. But let’s just hope the cinema industry rebounds by summer, like you said it will. Otherwise, this is going to look way worse in a few months.