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AMC Entertainment ‘s chief executive is leaning in to the theater firm’s cultlike status among social media retail investors. On Wednesday, CEO Adam Aron announced on Twitter a new rewards program for AMC Entertainment ‘s millions of stockholders, AMC Investor Connect.
The program is free for stockholders, and links up with the AMC Stubs Insider rewards program. Aron said on Twitter that the effort is meant to communicate often with shareholders. It will offer special rewards, starting with a free large popcorn. It isn’t exactly a new phenomenon—companies owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (ticker: BRK.A) have offered perks for shareholders in the past—but this effort follows a surge in social media sentiment in support of AMC.
AMC stock (AMC) surged nearly 90% Wednesday and was at one point halted due to volatility. After the halt, the stock was up 872% to $60.40—which would be its first record close since March 23, 2015, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The stock has soared in the past seven trading days, leading a broader resurgence in such highly-shorted social media darlings.
Supply and demand factors like short interest and options trading activity have colored the moves in meme stocks like AMC and GameStop (GME) this year. Though the moves may not be based on company fundamentals, AMC has cashed in on its rise by selling millions of shares. That has provided some hope that the chain can last long enough to benefit from a wave of consolidation in movie theaters.
During last month’s earnings call, Aron embraced the company’s social media fans. He announced he would match a $50,000 donation from AMC to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund—a charity popular on the WallStreetBets Reddit forum. The Reddit posters call themselves “apes,” posting memes and GIFs—like a scene in Rise of the Planet of the Apes where Andy Serkis’s character signs the phrase “Apes together: Strong,” a reference to the newly found collective power of retail investors in the stock market.
Aron’s direct appeals to Reddit users is notable. In contrast, Ryan Cohen, the large GameStop investor and soon-to-be chairman of the company’s board, has mostly stuck to cryptic Twitter posts that are open to interpretation. That, however, hasn’t stopped some GameStop fans from predicting major news events based on frog emojis and GIFs from adult cartoons.
On the AMCStock Reddit thread discussing the news, some commenters didn’t want to take money away from AMC by taking free popcorn. User Rickblood23 offered a solution: “Get the free popcorn and with that money buy chicken tendies,” they wrote. “Support the company and send a message.”
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