What happened

Shares of AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) were down 5.4% in midday trading Tuesday on no company-specific news, though the Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen more than 150 points as China's markets continue to tumble.

So what

AMC is, of course, volatile; yesterday the stock closed up 9% on the day. That just encouraged the r/WallStreetBets crowd into believing they're right that the stock is on track for a moonshot. Any gainsaying of the bullish perspective immediately elicits cries of market manipulation, hedge fund collusion, and dark pool assets despite the very troubled business foundation the theater operator is built upon.

Yet AMC has been able to maintain an elevated price level due to retail investors holding strong, though short-sellers seem to remain just as adamant about not letting go. Some 15% of AMC's outstanding shares are sold short.

People in theater watching movie

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Every tick higher gives AMC bulls hope the short squeeze they so desperately want is just over the horizon. Yet the theater industry's recovery advances ever so slowly. Results for Black Widow, for example, the latest origin story in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, suffered a big drop not least because Disney (NYSE:DIS) simultaneously released the film to its Disney+ streaming service at the same time. In unprecedented fashion, the studio said the film generated $60 million in streaming revenue

That's money right out of the theater industry's pocket and underscores the difficulty AMC and other operators face as more studios cater to the streaming market.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.