According to the company’s SEC filing Friday, Aron’s package in 2002 included a base salary of $1.1 million, a bonus of $5 million and stock award of $14.8 million.
The company pre-announced the bonus — there was no bonus in either 2018 or 2019 — citing Aron’s efforts to keep the struggling exhibitor afloat during a global pandemic that shuttered theaters. The circuit, which was close to bankruptcy, was saved by a capital raise late last year and love from retail investors on Reddit.
AMC was also in the news today as key movie market New York City allowed theaters to reopen at reduced capacity.
When movie theaters closed in March 2020 as the coronavirus took hold, AMC’s top executives including Aron agreed to cut their cash salary by 15% and decrease other compensation over three years in exchange for stock that will only vest if the price doubles or triples; Aron said at the time he would lose $1.6 million as a result of the cut. With theaters dark, the company eventually had to furlough about 30,000 people and has been bringing them back on slowly as theaters reopened in parts of the country.
AMC’s travails have been among the most public and painful in the entertainment industry as revenue dried up and Aron had to face high debt, landlords, and a pandemic that dragged on and on. The company renegotiated leases and restructured its debt several times, raising just enough cash to keep Chapter 11 in the rearview mirror.
A successful financing in the winter gave it more runway and then segued into an unusual moment on Wall Street. Retail investors in Reddit chatrooms in late January became champions of AMC stock as a kind of sidekick to GameStop, buying it aggressively. That set off a cascade of events that helped significantly reduce debt just as vaccines roll out and infection rates starting falling.