The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every business in different ways, but few have endured quite as much of a saga as AMC Theatres. It all started right at the beginning of when the virus first popped up in the U.S., when theaters were shut down and NBCUniversal decided to dump Trolls World Tour on streaming to account for its abbreviated theatrical release. The now-historic decision—paving the way for nearly every major movie studio to do similar things with their own movies—was a huge success, with the Trolls sequel making “nearly $100 million” in $20 rentals and convincing NBCUniversal to put more movies directly on streaming rather than waiting for the pandemic to subside. AMC was so infuriated by that decision that CEO Adam Aron declared that no Universal movie would ever screen in an AMC theater again.
That position lasted about three months, during which AMC started bleeding through so much money that it became clear that the chain might not even survive the year. Thanks to some last-minute (like, maybe literally last-minute) deals, though, AMC managed to raise enough money to survive long enough into 2021 for theaters to start reopening. Now, just one month shy of being a year out from those grim forecasts, AMC has put together a $25 million ad campaign—its first ever and maybe the first ever period, according to Box Office Pro—designed to remind people that movie theaters exist and that they’re a much better way to see a movie than your dumb house.
Assisting AMC in this campaign is certified famous person Nicole Kidman, who appears in the ads walking through AMC’s new Porter Ranch 9 theater in Los Angeles while talking about how magical and transformative the moviegoing experience is in a voiceover (it’s a bit like the video that Vin Diesel released earlier this year, but without Vin Diesel’s… Vin Diesel-ness). The ads, which will appear on television in a real shot across the bow of movies’ biggest competitor, were directed by Tim Cronenweth and Oscar-winning cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth and they were written by Captain Phillips writer Bill Ray.