With Wall Street closed in observance of Easter, the stock for worldwide #1 exhibitor AMC Theatres sits at a near-record low of $3.72 after the circuit announced it may sell $250 million in stock because it’s short on cash.

The AMC spin cited disappointing first-quarter 2024 box office, which will end down around nine percent from 2023. However, what went unsaid is April will be much worse.

Last Easter fell on April 9, the same weekend that Universal released “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” It grossed $575 million of that April’s $900 million total. This year, the month’s biggest contributors will likely be today’s release of “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,” followed by Alex Garland’s A24 drama “Civil War” (April 12) and Project X horror movie “Abigail” from Universal (April 19). All told, the most optimistic guess for April is $600 million and it could easily be closer to $500 million.

At the lower end, that would be worse than any pre-Covid year since 2008, when ticket prices were 40 percent lower. However, April will likely see the year’s box office fall 16-20 percent behind 2023. That puts AMC — and the exhibition business — in the danger zone.

Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt in The Fall Guy
‘The Fall Guy’Universal Pictures

The good news is April may represent the short-term nadir. Led by Ryan Gosling in “The Fall Guy,” this May could equal or top last year. The month also includes “The Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” and “Furiosa”; John Krasinski’s “IF” also looks promising.

Later in the year will see sequels to “Inside Out,” “A Quiet Place,” “Despicable Me,” “Deadpool,” “Beetlejuice,” “Joker,” and “Venom.” Even so, the year has only the slimmest chance of equaling 2023’s $9.1 billion box office.

The official AMC terminology for its likely decision to sell $250 million in stock is it seeks to “bolster liquidity, to repay, refinance, redeem or repurchase its existing indebtedness… and for general corporate purposes.” Investors do not like this: It dilutes the stock and suggests desperation to support an unhealthy business.

AMC is not alone in its mayday flags; the much smaller, niche-oriented circuit Alamo Drafthouse is actively seeking buyers. Private equity firm Altamont Capital Partners, which specializes in acquiring and flipping distressed assets, took controlling interest in Alamo after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2021.

April also brings CinemaCon, the annual convention of the National Association of Theater Owners in Las Vegas (April 8-11). It’s part pep rally, part state of the union, and a time when all studios and exhibitors put on a game face.

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