Movie theater stocks are plummeting after “Avatar 2″‘s modest opening weekend

“Avatar: The Way of Water” had a big opening weekend – just not a Pandora-big movie.

IndieWire has already told you that “Avatar: The Way of Water” alone isn’t the box office savior it needed, but now Wall Street is taking notice. Shares of AMC Entertainment (AMC) and Cinemark (CNK) both took a sharp dive on Monday, a strong suggestion that some market watchers expect more at the box office than the last release of 2022.

Shares in AMC fell 8.26 percent Monday, when Cinemark sank 10.30 percent (CNK moved back a few points in after-hours trading). IMAX closed the first trading day after “Avatar 2” opened the weekend, down 5.76 percent. Disney, the studio that produced Avatar: The Way of Water, fell 4.77 percent to a low not seen since 2014. (The onset of the pandemic brought Disney closer, which was forced to close its theme parks.) The overall stock market was much closer to stabilizing on Monday.

So why the pessimism of these four players? James Cameron’s “Avatar” sequel brought in $134.1 million over the weekend, an impressive number and one of the biggest openings of the year – but not the surprising number put out by “Spider-Man: No Way Home” ($260 million). ) at the same time a year ago. The opening weekend of “Avatar 2” fell short of initial box office projections, with some grossing less than $50 million.

And “Avatar” was pretty much the only thing audiences were flocking to this weekend. Other films in the top 10 have grossed a combined $18 million, with not just studio fare but also a few new platform releases from independent distributors (A24’s The Whale being the exception). It doesn’t help that there are plenty of new things coming next weekend over the Christmas holidays, including Paramount’s “Babylon,” Sony’s Whitney Houston biopic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and the animated “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” referring to a potentially silent cinema holiday.

However, there could be at least one other Pandora-sized savior at the box office in early 2023, specifically Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” as well as a few others like “M3GAN” and “Knock at the Cab.” and the Third Creed. And analysts are hopeful that, globally, next year could continue to gain ground in 2022 — even if we have to wait another full year before the box office returns to pre-pandemic levels.

However, AMC stock found some positivity on Monday. AMC CEO Adam Aron reports that the theater chain’s newly launched APE shares — shares of preferred stock — have raised $162 million for the company and reduced $180 million from its debt obligations this year. In fact, it’s capital that Aaron has already used by announcing AMC’s acquisition of the closed ArcLight Theaters location in Boston.

“Although APE units and our common stock are economically equivalent, it is disappointing that since inception APE units have consistently traded at a significant discount to AMC common stock,” CEO Adam Aron said in a press release. “While trading prices for securities appear to reflect distinct market and trading dynamics, APEs serve precisely the purpose for which they were originally intended.”

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