AMC Theatres’ AMC Stubs program has surpassed 20 million households, the chain divulged to Business Insider ahead of the announcement of the milestone, which will be released Tuesday.
According to the company, more than 50 million moviegoers in the US are using Stubs.
The chain’s popular three-tier membership program has been in the news more often since the launch of Stubs A-List, AMC’s movie-ticket subscription program. A-List costs $19.95 a month (or $21.95, or $23.95 a month in various regions of the country) and lets you see three movies per week. A-List, which launched in June of 2018, recently crossed 800,000 subscribers to become the largest movie-ticket subscription service. Business Insider reported in April that A-List rival MoviePass dropped from over 3 million subscribers to around 225,000, according to leaked internal data.
But the growth of Stubs as a whole isn’t just from the popularity of A-List.
The Stubs program launched in 2011 to little fanfare as the only option was Stubs Premiere, a $15 yearly membership with perks ranging from free popcorn and soda refills to the waiving of online ticketing fees. In 2016, Stubs was relaunched with the inclusion of a second tier, Stubs Insider. And unlike Premiere, it was free to sign up for.
The Stubs Insider perks included a free large popcorn on your birthday, discounted tickets on Tuesdays, and online ticket fees waived when you ordered four or more tickets.
“It really gave access to people who weren’t willing to spend in the initial program,” Stephen Colanero, Chief Marketing Officer at AMC, told Business Insider. “Creating a free tier gave people the basic benefits and really grew our numbers.”
Since 2016, Stubs has seen 700% membership growth. That growth has helped AMC build a way to specifically connect with customers and keep them up-to-date on the kind of movies they like to see. The chain said in 2019 alone, it has already sent out more than 1.5 billion personalized e-mails, text messages, and mobile app notifications.
“That’s the basis of our whole marketing platform,” Colanero said. “Get people to sign up for AMC Stubs, see what movies they see, get them personalized messages based on that, which gets them more excited to see movies in the future.”
To give an example of the power of Stubs’ membership base, Colanero pointed out the day “Avengers: Endgame” tickets were available online. AMC’s online ticketing service (as well as many other chains) crashed trying to handle the onslaught of online tickets being purchased, and he noted that a big reason for that was Stubs subscribers.
“Our Stubs members were ready to go when the tickets went on sale and they hit us pretty hard,” Colanero said with a laugh looking back on it now. The opening weekend of “Endgame” was the best ever for AMC as it broke records for tickets sold as well as food and beverage.
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“Our guests are prepared and know what’s coming because we have been feeding them all along what to expect,” Colanero said.
Among the three big movie chains in the nation, AMC has the most robust membership program. Cinemark offers two tiers with its Movie Rewards: Movie Fan is the free option, which offers perks like popcorn and drink refills, along with access to advance screenings; while Movie Club is its $8.99-per-month movie-ticket subscription plan for one ticket per month (unused tickets roll over) and no online ticket fees. Regal’s Crown Club is a program where you earn 100 credits for every $1 spent, which you can use for free movies and concessions once you build enough credits.
Colanero was mum on any new additions to AMC Stubs in the future, but there are new features for all AMC customers expanding this summer to many of the chain’s theaters in the US.
Since Memorial Day, reserved seating has been available at all theaters (except AMC Classic theaters), and more AMCs are introducing the option for customers to order food or drinks before they get to the multiplex. Those are two things Colanero said should make Stubs members happy.
“They are the vast majority of people who order online and order ahead,” he said.