AMC Entertainment (AMC -1.76%) will reopen more than 100 theaters beginning Aug. 20, and to lure moviegoers back into the seats, the theater operator will offer tickets for just $0.15 each.

While framed as a celebration of its 100th anniversary -- AMC is trumpeting it as "movies in 2020 at 1920 prices" -- the reality is that with Hollywood not releasing any new big-budget movies for at least a month or more, getting people to come out for retread films they could see on Netflix or Amazon Prime won't be an easy sell.

Child wearing mask in empty theater

Image source: Getty Images.

Getting bodies in the seats

AMC's theaters have been fully closed since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the theater operator has walked along the edge of bankruptcy as a result. It posted its worst quarter last week in its 100-year history.

Reopening will be key to its survival, but only if moviegoers come out again, and that will be difficult when movie studios have delayed the release of potential blockbuster films. 

Warner Bros. Entertainment, a subsidiary of AT&T's WarnerMedia, has pushed back the release of Tenet, and Wonder Woman 1984 won't appear until October; Disney's Mulan is on hiatus; A Quiet Place II was supposed to appear in September, but now won't be out until April 2021; and the Tom Cruise Top Gun sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, has been postponed from December until next summer.

That's why when AMC theaters reopen, they will be showing repeats like Back to the Future, Black Panther, Ghostbusters, Grease, Inception, and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. While they are all popular movies, they've also all been seen numerous times over the years, which is why AMC needs a gimmick like $0.15 tickets to get consumers out again.

With social distancing protocols also in place, AMC Entertainment will still be facing diminished attendance.