LOS ANGELES, March 2 ― Theatre chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc beat estimates for fourth-quarter revenue yesterday as box-office hits such as Spider-Man: No Way Home brought people back to the movies.

Long-awaited releases including the James Bond film No Time To Die and Marvel's Venom: Let There Be Carnage also helped AMC recover from pandemic restrictions that had brought movie-going to a standstill.

Worries over the Omicron variant have pushed producers to postpone movie releases, making the future of the theatre chain uncertain this year. While No Way Home is still playing in cinemas, operators have few other big titles on their schedule until spring and summer.

“The box office pacing and our results in 2022 are expected to be heavily weighted towards the second half of the year,” Chief Executive Officer Adam Aron said in a statement.

AMC said bookings are very strong for The Batman film, which opens this weekend and added that it expects to benefit from releases like Top Gun: Maverick and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever later this year.

During the fourth quarter, footfall at AMC’s theatres swelled to nearly 60 million from just over 8 million a year ago, reflecting moviegoers are returning to theatres in droves after relying on Netflix and other streaming services for much of their entertainment during pandemic-induced lockdowns.

Revenue for the quarter ended December 31 was US$1.17 billion (RM4.9 billion). Analysts on average had expected US$1.10 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net loss narrowed to US$134.4 million, or 26 cents per share, from US$946.1 million, or US$6.21 per share, a year earlier.

AMC's stock leapt more than 1,150 per cent last year, largely driven by an army of retail investors coordinating their buying on forums such as Reddit's WallStreetBets.

AMC also said it finished 2021 with a record year-ending liquidity position of over US$1.8 billion. ― Reuters