The visit to the cinema is down, thanks in large part to the pandemic, but chains like AMC still need to make money. If stockpile of memes are not a reliable business plan, why not find another app for a giant room with a huge screen and many seats?
In partnership with Zoom, AMC Theaters will launch a product called Enlarge the rooms next year. Basically, you go to the movie theater to join a Zoom meeting with your company. Yes, you have to travel to the theater just to join a meeting with your colleagues from across the country who are also at an AMC theater. If your company isn’t cash-strapped, you might even get free popcorn.
These theaters, which range between 75 and 150 seats, will be bookable in three-hour blocks.
“AMC has an abundance of attractive theaters in centrally located locations in city after city, each with ample seating, especially during the weekday hours when most meetings are held,” said AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron. “Zoom Rooms at AMC expands our reach as we can now participate in the multi-billion dollar [dollar] market for corporate and other meetings.’
While the idea of one person sitting alone in a movie theater during a Zoom call is funny, that’s not what’s happening here. This technology is supposed to connect groups of people in different locations—so, for example, a New York-based team can meet at one theater to catch up with a Los Angeles-based team at another theater. But it remains unclear how you can actually tell who’s talking if you have dozens of people crammed into the theater. Movie theater popcorn aside, it seems like a technical nightmare to figure out how to actually hold a meeting like this… and maybe working from home and mailing non-perishable bags of popcorn is a simpler alternative.
“As hybrid working becomes more common in the United States, Zoom Rooms at AMC will enable companies and other organizations with decentralized workforces and client bases to bring people from different markets together for cohesive virtual and in-person event and meeting experiences ,” said a press release from AMC Theaters.
It feels like someone put a handful of publicly traded companies in a hat, picked two at random, and challenged them to create some kind of new collaboration.
AMC failed during the pandemic as its core business was called into question by a once-in-a-lifetime disaster. But even as vaccines become more widely available, people aren’t returning to the movies as the company had hoped. Although AMC’s quarterly revenue increased, the company still reported a quarterly loss this week. Meanwhile, Zoom is trying to expand its reach with adding features like email and calendar as its unprecedented growth slows.