AMC is the latest meme stock darling for hordes of online investors, and CEO Adam Aron has been leaning heavily into the company’s newfound virality. However, I doubt he ever expected to become a meme himself, as was the case this week after he appeared to be pantless during a live interview with a YouTuber.
On Thursday, Aron joined Trey Collins, the host of the Trey’s Trades channel, to chat about AMC’s finances, from the nearly $US600 ($770) million it raised from selling 11.5 million shares after AMC became popular among online investing communities like r/WallStreetBets to the company’s upcoming business moves aimed at generating “genuine value” for shareholders. Aron’s camera falls down right around the 14-minute mark, revealing that he’s committed a cardinal sin of teleconferencing: Not bothering to put on pants.
Whether Aron’s wearing underwear or just extremely short shorts is unclear, but it’s immediately obvious that he’s not wearing pants in the split second before he quickly readjusts the camera. Sadly, AMC didn’t respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment on the matter.
The embarrassing gaffe quickly went viral online, spawning the hashtag “ApesDontWearPants” (AMC investors refer to themselves as “apes”) as well as a dedicated Twitter account for Arons’ trousers that were M.I.A. A video clip of the moment posted to the WallStreetBets Reddit forum currently has nearly 60,000 upvotes.
This just goes to show you that internet fame is a double-edged sword. Aron has been actively fuelling the hype train for AMC in recent months with subtle shoutouts to the subreddit in interviews and at least one earnings call, undoubtedly in a bid to get butts in seats. The covid-19 pandemic nearly bankrupted AMC last year. In October, the company predicted its cash reserves would be “largely depleted” by early 2021 given the fallout from low attendance and a delayed movie release schedule. Fourth-quarter attendance for 2020 fell by about 92% in the U.S. and 89% internationally compared to the same period in 2019, AMC reported.
The fervor from retail investors has given AMC a direly needed cash injection to keep it afloat as moviegoers hesitantly start returning to theatres. On Thursday, Aron tried to appeal to this audience by arguing that it would be in the company’s best interest if shareholders allowed AMC to issue millions of new shares.
“If you arm us with the tool — meaning stock as the tool — to go find value-creating opportunities for AMC shareholders, we can do that,” he told Collins. “If we are not armed with this tool, then you’re tying our hands behind our back and you’ll make it just that much harder for us to land some of these attractive opportunities that could benefit us all.”
But it seems that proposal largely fell on deaf ears, as the hordes of online investors Aron helped rile up were overwhelmingly more preoccupied with his trouser situation than his business plans.