'Batman' fans help lift AMC results; shares rise 5%

The outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Burbank
The AMC theatre is pictured during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Burbank, California, U.S., June 30, 2020. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

May 9 (Reuters) - AMC Entertainment (AMC.N) posted better-than-expected quarterly revenue and a narrower loss on Monday, as the release of big-ticket films such as "The Batman" drew crowds to movie halls, driving a surge in box-office collection at the world's largest theater chain.

Shares of the company, a favorite among meme stock traders, rose 5% in extended trading.

After becoming one of the biggest victims of the pandemic, AMC is seeing a revival in business, as a steady stream of new releases such as "Scream", "Uncharted" and "Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness", the latest film in Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe, is keeping theaters full.

"Let me say it again to all those who doubted the consumer appeal of movie theaters: 'Doctor Strange', 'Doctor Strange', 'Doctor Strange', 'Doctor Strange'" Chief Executive Officer Adam Aron said on a post-earnings call.

"Our guests have been spending like never before, with revenues per patron going through the roof at AMC, up 34% above pre-pandemic norms."

Theater chains are working extra hard to attract moviegoers as they go head-to-head with deeply funded streaming services, whose fount of content kept most people entertained during lockdowns.

AMC, which went public in the early 1980s and rode on the success of "Star Wars" trilogy and "Raiders of the Lost Ark", has been experimenting with ideas including starting its own wholesale popcorn line, NFTs, theater exclusivity deals and letting customers pay with cryptocurrencies.

The company posted an adjusted loss of 52 cents per share on revenue of $785.7 million in the quarter ended March 31. Analysts on average had expected a loss of 63 cents per share on revenue of $743.4 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company is gearing up to screen Paramount's "Top Gun: Maverick", Marvel's "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever", "Thor: Love and Thunder" and the much-awaited "Avatar 2".

Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva

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