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AMC Theaters Suffered A Staggering Drop-Off In 2022 Foot Traffic

The COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States in early 2020, and it certainly uprooted several aspects of life that many of us have taken for granted. The virus forced businesses, public places, and even schools to close while causing a tremendous amount of causalities and long-term effects that are still poorly understood. 

Even now, COVID-19 continues to mutate into different variants, and according to the CDC, each variant has the potential to be more or less transmissible. In response, many eschewed gatherings of people, while most restaurants had to move away from in-person dining and instead survived on take-out orders alone. As reported by The Washington Post, it is estimated that 90,000 restaurants did not survive the ordeal by 2021 and were forced to close permanently.

One of the hardest hit businesses over the course of this pandemic has been the film industry. Many production companies opted to release many of their movies directly to streaming, with varying outcomes. The New York Times notes that Warner Bros. released their entire 2021 slate directly to streaming, while Scarlett Johansson sued Disney over the release of "Black Widow" and royalty payments that did not necessarily take into account the effect that streaming had on box office figures. 

Despite all the friction, perhaps the biggest loser when it comes to the entertainment industry and the response to the pandemic has been movie theaters. In fact, one of the largest chains of movie theaters has suffered a rather remarkable decline in patrons.

2022 has seen AMC Theaters struggle to return to pre-pandemic levels

According to Statista, the largest movie theater chain in the United States and Canada Is AMC, which has around 7,850 screens. However, Data Herald's original research reveals that the prolific theater chain has suffered an incredible decline in foot traffic over the last year. The above graph indicates that there was only a spike in traffic at AMC theaters between December 2021 and January 2022. In February 2021, AMC received less than 20,000 visitors per month, but between December and January, it rose to nearly 180,000 before promptly dipping again. The chain has not broken the 100,000 visitors per month mark for the rest of the year, or at least till July 2022, which is where our raw data stops.

This December and January uptick in traffic is more than likely associated with the release of "Spider-Man: No Way Home," which went on to earn around $800 million domestically (via The Numbers). During the early days of the pandemic in March 2020, AMC, as well as many other theater chains, decided to temporarily close their locations in an attempt to stifle the spread of the deadly virus, as reported by The Hill, which was devastating for the movie industry. 

Ever since, theaters have struggled to regain their footing. The Hollywood Reporter notes that even though box office revenue was up 101% over 2020 in 2021, the income remains well below pre-pandemic levels. Still, despite the fact that AMC has only really had a singular marquee month over the past year and a half, there is a subtle hint in our data that foot traffic in movie theaters might be slowly increasing.