In his head, I'm pretty sure that AMC Entertainment Holdings (AMC) CEO Adam Aron saw Monday playing out differently than it did. The stock declined -- on a day when the general market was rallying -- after the company announced plans to team up with Sony (SONY 1.40%) to give out 86,000 non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to promote the theatrical premiere of Spider-Man: No Way Home.
The hype was certainly there. On the eve of Thanksgiving last week, Aron teased about a "fun" announcement it would make on Sunday.
"It's an idea which I think many of you will like a great deal," Aron's tweet promised. It apparently wasn't enough to please the market, as the stock retreated on its weakest Monday volume in months.
Home is where the hard is
This idea came from YOU! Partnering with @SonyPictures for #AMCFirstEverNFT. More than 100 unique Spider-Man NFTs, given FREE to the first 86,000 online buyers of U.S. AMC December 16 tickets for Spider-Man No Way Home. Only for Stubs Premiere, A-List & Investor Connect members. pic.twitter.com/VnsMVeR29w— Adam Aron (@CEOAdam) November 28, 2021
I like Aron. I think he has the right approach at the helm of a meme stock. He's tried to transform the millions of new retail AMC investors into customers, building them up and appeasing the masses with free screenings and tubs of popcorn. He's also tried to shoot down some of the conspiracy theories, likely knowing that he has to do that if he still wants to embrace the fandom without inheriting the inevitable class action lawsuits when the party ends.
However, Aron also comes dangerously close to pandering too hard to the #ApeArmy with rhetoric that may be misconstrued by unsophisticated investors. His Thanksgiving Eve tweet about "one of our big December movies" almost makes it seem as if AMC has ownership of the upcoming Spider-Man film, when it will naturally be screening at every rival multiplex. A tweet on Monday may be even more problematic.
Our #AMCFirstEverNFT with @SonyPictures and Spider-Man: No Way Home caused AMC's online ticketing traffic Sunday night/Monday morning to soar, to the highest ever in AMC's entire history. Oh did we sell tickets! But we are sorry wait times got long with the unprecedented volumes. pic.twitter.com/MdLVL3Z7Oj— Adam Aron (@CEOAdam) November 29, 2021
There may seem to be nothing sinister in that tweet, but it wasn't just AMC's ticketing site that crashed on Monday once Spider-Man: No Way Home tickets went on sale. Regal and Fandango online ticketing platforms also became temporarily unavailable. I'm not sure what the collectible value will be of 86,000 NFTs tethered to movie premiere tickets, but all chains saw a surge in ticket orders for the highly anticipated movie.
Aron credits shareholders for the NFT idea. He did the same thing last month when he polled his social media followers to see if the chain should accept Shiba Inu (SHIB) to pay for movie tickets alongside other crypto denominations. It's more hype than substance. Do you really think that Shiba Inu investors will want to dump their crypto -- legally a taxable event -- just because they want to see a movie? They're holding because they believe it will appreciate. Framed differently, how would AMC bulls feel if Aron said that he would allow shareholders to sell their AMC stock -- also legally a taxable event -- for screening tickets and concessions stand purchases?
Hopping on NFTs en masse and Shiba Inu is more about pleasing buzzword-hungry meme stock investors than practical business. It's also not working, as the stock moved lower on the NFT news and is trading even lower since Shiba Inu became official AMC currency two weeks ago.
AMC is gaining market share in a struggling industry, and Aron deserves credit for making it the undisputed leader among movie theater stocks. However, with the stock already cut roughly in half from its June highs maybe Aron can be more responsible when trying to stack a meme stock atop meme art and a meme digital currency.