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AMC Theater Chain Gets Into Streaming With On-Demand Movies

“For us, it’s all upside,” said Ron Sanders, president of worldwide distribution and home entertainment at Warner. “Most of our other big digital partners are focused on multiple categories — music, books. The great thing about AMC is that movies are the whole focus.”

Films will cost roughly $3 to $5.99 to rent and $9.99 to $19.99 to buy.

Mr. Aron, who took over AMC in early 2016 after running the Starwood hotel chain, has been more willing to embrace change than many other theater executives, in part because he is not blind to his industry’s challenges. Moviegoing in North America — across the chains — has been roughly flat for years, leaving theaters to scratch for growth by charging more for tickets and concessions, a strategy that has its limits.

“Our theater business is mature,” Mr. Aron said. “There is a high-growth opportunity in this digital expansion.”

He called home entertainment a “natural” extension of AMC’s core business — one designed to capitalize on the chain’s fast-growing customer loyalty program, AMC Stubs, which covers more than 20 million households. He said the AMC Stubs database gave the company a marketing advantage for movie rentals and downloads.

For instance, AMC Stubs members bought about six million tickets to “The Lion King” over the summer. When “The Lion King” becomes available digitally on Tuesday, “those people will all get a personalized message from AMC saying that they can now enjoy it at home through AMC Theaters On Demand,” said Elizabeth Frank, AMC’s chief content officer.

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