What happened

Shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings (NYSE:AMC) rose as much as 17.6% on Friday morning following the release of strong fourth-quarter results. As of 2:02 p.m. EST, the movie theater chain's stock was up 12.6%.

So what

AMC's fourth-quarter sales held steady year over year at $1.4 billion, in line with Wall Street's consensus estimate. On the bottom line, the company swung from a $2.16 net loss per share to earnings of $0.43 per share. Here, your average analyst would have settled for earnings near $0.17 per share. Management gave credit for the solid report to "tremendous momentum of the industry box office," as well as the successful launch of the AMC Stubs A-List ticket subscription program.

In a packed movie theater, the view focuses on a father and daughter sharing some popcorn.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

The Stubs service boasted 18.6 million member households at the end of the fourth quarter, covering about 45% of AMC's overall patronage. The A-List subscription service reached 700,000 members at the end of February, a mere eight months after that program's launch. The average A-List subscriber starts off with several movie tickets in the first couple of weeks before settling down to roughly three tickets per month. That milder movie appetite is still a big upgrade from the average moviegoing rate of about six films per year, so the subscription program seems to promise box office growth in the years ahead.

We may be watching a movie industry revolution in real time as consumers and industry insiders start to embrace the subscription model. It's no surprise to see AMC's shares jumping due to this brawny report, but there's more work to be done -- AMC's stock is still trading 19% lower over the last six months.