AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron has called for a salary and stock pay freeze for himself and other top executives at the exhibition giant as they look to weather the continuing economic storm circling the theatrical movie business.
“Biggest inflation in 40 years, so in 2023 companies will grant large % salary raises. But I do not want “more” when our shareholders are hurting. So, I recommended to the AMC Board to red circle and freeze both my target cash and target stock pay for 2023. NO INCREASE,” Aron said as part of a thread on his personal Twitter account on Tuesday.
The AMC head, who frequently takes to the social media platform to play to retail investors that have back-stopped his company’s stock price during the pandemic, said he had asked his top corporate officers, or between 15 and 20 executives, to forego any increase to their cash salaries for 2023. “When CEO’s ‘ask,’ execs to their credit usually agree. I sincerely thank them for that. AMC has a very dedicated management team,” Aron added.
In April 2022, the theater chain disclosed that Aron was paid $18.9 million in 2021, down from $20.9 million in overall compensation in 2020 when theaters were mostly closed for months amid the pandemic and AMC was forced into major debt restructuring. Aron’s appeal for sacrifice by himself and other top officers at the exhibitor comes as investors consider a stock price that has fallen from dizzying heights reached earlier during the pandemic.
In a symbolic move, shareholders of AMC Theatres voted against the pay packages of company officials, including Aron, according to an SEC filing issued by the company in June 2022. In 2021, Aron’s base salary rose to $1.45 million, from $1.1 million a year earlier, and he took home no bonus last year, after receiving one for $5 million in 2020.
The key driver for his overall pay package in 2021 was $6 million in a non-equity incentive plan compensation, where he received nothing from that category in the year-earlier period. AMC’s proxy statement at the time pointed to Aron’s stock awards coming to $11.4 million in 2021, against $14.8 million in stock awards in 2020.
Representatives at AMC Theatres had no additional comment on how Aron’s overall compensation package might be impacted by his call for a salary and stock pay freeze in 2013. But the company head insisted on Twitter that no salary increase for top officers was appropriate for current market conditions.
“No increase for those at the top is the right thing to do. I have fans and bashers on Twitter, those who agree or disagree with my decisions. But know this: my motives are pure. I try as best as I know how to lead AMC through the painful aftermath of this horrid pandemic,” Aron wrote.
But there could be good news for AMC Theatres workers, who can expect their own salary increase next year as the company competes for workers just as inflation has wages rising across the economy.
Asked to clarify whether AMC workers further down the corporate ladder may receive a salary raise, Aron replied: “Yes, absolutely yes. We are asking for financial sacrifice only from those at the very top. It is hard to recruit workers. We must pay our people fairly. Indeed, wages for our film crew’ (hourly workers at our U.S. theatres) have been rising by double digit percentages.”