The History of AMC Theaters

This article was written by Samuel Phineas Upham

Before theater came to the big screen, there were the Dubinsky brothers. They were travelling performers who found themselves in the Midwest, acting in tent shows and melodramas. They found an opportunity to take over their own performance space, and purchased the Regent Theater in 1920. They soon changed their name to “Durwood” and started the Durwood Theater Company.

By 1961, leadership had changed hands to one of the Dubinsky’s sons. Stanley Dubinski, who had attended Harvard University and had served in the air force during World War II, renamed the company to American Multi-Cinema Inc.

By 1963, AMC had opened its first multi-plex, consisting of just two screens. Stanley reasoned that he could operate the same theater with the same staff, but could enjoy greater profits serving two screens at once. This kicked off an industry trend of multi-plexes, which helped to cut costs and provide for a greater selection of movie titles as well.

AMC expanded to ten locations by the 1980s, including sites in the UK. It expanded internationally to offer multi-plexes in countries like Portugal. It was a publicly traded company until it was acquired by Marquee Holdings in 2004. They kept it off the market until an IPO was announced in 2006.

AMC has managed to stay relevant through a variety of programs geared toward servicing its loyal base. It began a rewards program, which gave customers free concessions or movie tickets based on a point system. It also began its pass program, so someone could buy a ticket as a gift for someone else.

Samuel Phineas Upham

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Samuel Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Twitter page.