AMC Movie Theater Stocks Are Blowing Up Thanks to Angry Redditors

Can meme stocks save the theatrical movie business?

Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images
Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images
Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images

AMC, the largest movie theater chain in the world, is caught up in the wildest stock market story of the year. Maybe you’ve seen headlines, cable news chyrons, or stray Wolf of Wall Street GIFS on social media referencing the rise of GameStop, specifically how traders on Reddit have boosted the value of the company’s stock in a battle with hedge funds betting on the failure of the video-game retailer. If you weren’t dumping cash into meme stocks, you may have brushed up on The Big Short or tweeted at the co-creator of Billions about why this would make a perfect episode. It’s been a bizarre week.

For AMC, the last year has been a struggle. As the pandemic grinds on and theaters in cities like New York remain closed, with would-be blockbusters booted from the schedule or banished to fledging streaming platforms, the company has not found a way to turn back time (Tenet-style) and revive its financial misfortune. Still, the stock surged more than 300% on Wednesday with its shares trading for as high as $20.36 a share.

How did this happen? As the Hollywood Reporter notes, AMC shares were trading at $2.01 only a few weeks ago, and bankruptcy speculation dogged the company all summer as it reeled from the closures caused by the virus and battles with Universal over the theatrical distribution window. Earlier this week, AMC announced it raised almost $1 billion to create a “financial runway” that would provide protection “deep into 2021.” 

But that’s not exactly what drove the surge. AMC’s current comeback narrative doesn’t have much to do with what investors might consider the fundamentals of the company or its current financial trajectory. After all, we still have no real idea when the movie business will return to normal. So what’s going on here? Why is Elon Musk involved? Here’s what you need to know.

What does this have to do with GameStop stock?

GameStop has been struggling even before the pandemic as customers spend less time going to stores and more time purchasing digital copies of video games via platforms like Steam or their consoles’ e-shops. The company’s shaky future, combined with an overall downturn in the purchasing of physical media, made it a popular target for hedge funds looking to short its stock. Shorting, a risky but common investment strategy, basically means placing a bet that a stock will eventually go down. If it does go down, you can make a lot of money. If it continues to go up, there’s almost no limit to how much you can potentially lose. 

The specifics of why Reddit users, particularly the posters of the subreddit r/wallstreetbets, decided to get behind GameStop are complicated. You could spend the rest of the day reading dozens of explainers unpacking the history of the bet, the motivations, and the larger cultural implications. A professor on Twitter yesterday argued it was all about men not having enough sex. (OK, buddy.) On Wednesday, the stock finished up at a stunning 134%. 

There’s an element of gamer nostalgia at play, along with a heavy dose of “eat the rich” populist anger targeted at the hedge funds shorting the stock, but there was a case made in the early days that GameStop, under the advisement of Chewy.com co-founder Ryan Cohen, could turn around its business by shifting to an e-commerce strategy. At this point, the frenzy, driven by an Elon Musk tweet and rampant media coverage, is the main attraction.

Noam Galai/Getty Images
Noam Galai/Getty Images
Noam Galai/Getty Images

What does any of this have to do with AMC? 

Anyway, the frenzy is where AMC comes in. Along with Blackberry, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Nokia, AMC has attracted the interest of the r/wallstreetbets community, which began hailing the company as a potential investment opportunity like GameStop. Traders started loading up on the stock, pushing up the price and sticking it to short sellers in the process. Even the cable company AMC Networks, a completely different stock that trades as “AMCX,” got caught up in the chaos as investors likely mistook it for the other AMC and saw its stock surge 12% on Wednesday.  

The reaction to all this volatility will likely be swift. On Wednesday, the messaging app Discord banned the wallstreetbets server for allowing “hateful and discriminatory content after repeated warnings.” On Thursday, Robinhood, the popular investment app, stopped allowing users to buy or trade the most highly coveted wallstreetbets stocks, including GameStop and AMC. According to press secretary Jen Psaki, the White House is “monitoring the situation.”

AMC is not just sitting on its hands, either. On Wednesday, the company announced it raised an additional $304.8 million, and on Thursday, it reduced its debt by $600 million by converting bonds into stock. Even if the company is caught in a meme-vortex, these would appear to be good signs. 

Will meme stocks save the movie business? 

If you are reading Thrillist for savvy investment advice, you have lost your way. Seek help. With that necessary disclosure out of the way, let me make a really mundane observation: This whole situation is obviously strange and unpredictable. The consensus seems to be that the bubble will burst eventually-that’s what bubbles tend to do-and the people left holding onto stocks like GameStop and AMC, particularly if they bought them late in the process, will see some heavy losses. Will the Reddit hivemind be able to hold on long enough to stick it to the hedge funds? Again, who knows.

On some level, the fact that AMC got roped into this frenzy does suggest a degree of popular support for the company, perhaps reflective of a larger public desire to see movie theaters survive the pandemic and “return to normal” in a post-vaccine world. Movies dropping on HBO Max and the continued success of Netflix does not have to be an extinction-level event for the major movie theater chains. Presumably, there are people out there who still want to go to the movies-and some of them apparently like to play the stock market. Need help finding something to watch? Sign up here for our weekly Streamail newsletter to get streaming recommendations delivered straight to your inbox.

Dan Jackson is a senior staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. He’s on Twitter @danielvjackson.


Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.


Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.


BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.


Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.