AMC Theatres’ subscription service Stubs A-List has registered 860,129 members since launching one year ago today, the company announced in a press release Thursday (June 27). According to AMC, those members have seen films in AMC theaters more than 20 million times since the beginning of the program.
“This one-year anniversary gives us an opportunity to reflect on the enormous success of the AMC Stubs A-List program,” said AMC Theaters CEO and President Adam Aron in a statement. “Prior to launching A-List last summer, we set an initial goal of 500,000 members after one year and a second goal of 1 million by June 26, 2020. Based on our research and best estimations at the time, those goals seemed aggressive but attainable heading into the launch of the program. Given the overwhelmingly positive moviegoer reception we received the moment A-List was announced, it quickly became clear the program would exceed those expectations. Indeed, we crossed 500,000 members within four-and-a-half months, and now sit at more than 860,000 members today.”
Under the terms of the service, A-List members can watch up to three movies per week in every available AMC showtime and format, including premium windows such as a film’s opening night and opening weekend. Members also do not incur additional costs to watch films in premium formats such as IMAX and 3D or at dine-in theaters. Additionally, AMC notes that they do not charge online ticket fees for reservations made on AMCTheatres.com or on the AMC Theatres mobile app.
AMC estimates that A-List members average 2.8 visits per month, and that they have doubled their “bring-along revenue” — i.e. bringing friends to the theater who then pay full price — compared to the period before they signed up for A-List. They also claim that members have increased their food and beverage spending by approximately 250 percent.
A-List members additionally enjoy all the benefits of both the free and paid tiers of AMC’s long-running Stubs loyalty program, including free size upgrades on popcorn and soda, free refills on large popcorn, “express service” at both the box office and concessions stand, access to reserved seats in premium auditoriums and $5 rewards for every $50 they spend at AMC theaters.
A-List is priced differently depending on where subscribers live, with a cost of $19.95 monthly in 34 states, $21.95 per month in 11 others (as well as the District of Columbia) and $23.95 in the remaining five, including California and New York. Those subscription rates do not include applicable taxes.
AMC launched Stubs A-List within two years of acquiring U.K. distributor Odeon, which had previously started its own subscription service called Limitless. In a 2018 interview with Boxoffice, AMC Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Colanero admitted that A-List was heavily informed by Odeon’s experience in the subscription space. “It certainly helped us frame what we were embarking on—some of our economic modeling, in terms of how quickly it stabilized, what the activity was for the established members,” he said. “We felt a little more confident in our research and analytics, based on the experiences that they had.”
Stubs A-List was preceded by Cinemark’s Movie Club subscription program—the first in-house subscription service in the U.S —which boasted more than 560,000 active members as of February 2019. Cinemark claimed in a recent earnings report that Movie Club members go to movies three times more than non-members and opt for premium formats like IMAX and 3D twice as much.
More recently, a number of smaller U.S.-based exhibitors including Showcase Cinemas, Studio Movie Grill, Alamo Drafthouse, Studio C and Celebration Cinema, and Megaplex have also launched in-house programs.
The North American theatrical subscription service boom was kicked off in part by Moviepass, which launched a pilot program in San Francisco in 2011 and ultimately offered unlimited moviegoing nationwide for just $9.95 a month beginning in 2017. By June 2018 Moviepass had grown to three million subscribers, until cash flow problems forced the company to change its terms of service—a move that caused disillusionment among its subscriber base. As of April 2019, the company’s number of paying subscribers had fallen over 90% to just 225,000. While the company continues to be operational for now, Sinemia, another third-party subscription service, closed up shop earlier this year.
The downfalls of these third-party services have made other companies skittish about starting their own. Instead, companies like Atom Tickets and Boxoffice’s parent company Webedia Movies Pro have recently entered the subscription market by offering white-label subscription platforms that assist exhibitors in setting up their own subscription plans.
AMC is the largest theatrical exhibitor in North America with 630 locations in the U.S. It boasts over 1,000 theaters worldwide.