What happened

While the broader stock market had a downbeat ending on Friday, AMC Entertainment Holdings (AMC 2.38%) stock surged ahead by 6.4%. Investors are clearly expecting a good weekend for the company due to the fresh release of a blockbuster film, which should then continue to drive attendance at movie theaters.

So what

That movie is the long-awaited Tenet, a thriller directed by Christopher Nolan that in any normal year without a frightening global pandemic would be a summer "tentpole" release.

AMC theater marquee.

Image source: Getty Images.

There has been much buzz about Tenet. We can even say it's the most highly anticipated release of 2020, although that's a low bar given the state of the movie exhibition business these days.

Meanwhile, AMC has been reopening its cinemas in phases since having to shutter all of them during the initial stages of the outbreak. Earlier this week it promised that around 70% of its U.S. locations were to have their lights on by today.

Now what

As it is dependent on cinema attendance, AMC has suffered enormously from the shutdowns engendered by the pandemic -- no wonder it's so eager to get back into business.

Social distancing measures have been put in place at the company's cinemas. That, plus the lingering skittishness of people toward crowd situations for fear of getting infected, makes me think a full-blooded migration back into movie theaters isn't going to happen. But it's an encouraging (re)start for AMC as a company, hence today's bullish reaction.