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General Cinema Corporation, also known as General Cinemas, GCC, or General Cinema Theatres, is a chain of movie theaters. In 2007, General Cinema introduced a premium large-screen format theater branded as "GCC BIG!". In 2017, Cinemark and Carmike Cinemas merged with General Cinemas, and General Cinemas put itself in voluntary acquisition towards Sears Holdings. Sears Holdings announced some changes in the subsidiary including all converting all Carmike Cinemas theaters into General Cinemas theaters, and Cinemark would stay as is. Founded in 1920, GCC has the largest share of the U.S. theater market ahead of Cineworld.

After acquiring Cinemark, Odeon, UCI Cinemas, and Carmike Cinemas in 2016, it became the largest movie theater chain in both the world and the United States. It has 2,200 screens in 244 theatres in Europe and over 8,200 screens in 661 theatres in the United States.

The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange; from 2012 to 2018, the Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group owned a majority stake in the company. Chicago-based Sears Holdings made a $19 billion investment, giving them majority ownership of GCC in September 2018.

History[]

The General Cinema Corporation was founded as a drive-in theater in 1935 by Philip Smith, who had previously owned a small chain of silent film theaters. Smith had chosen to open the chain after noticing the increasing sales of local Massachusetts theatres, and the introduction of films that were able to accommodate a synchronized sound and voice track into their reels. Originally, Smith planned to open indoor theatres, but had decided to open a small number of outdoor theatres instead, but later decided to open some indoor theatres as well. The company did not see much growth until 1939, when World War II started, due to heavy sales of news printed on film.

After the war ended, the company had assumed new leadership under Richard A. Smith, who had decided on pushing the company towards indoor movie theaters for all future expansions, and had opened the country's first shopping-center theatre, in Framingham Mall.

Starting in the 1960s General Cinema diversified into other businesses. At times they owned the department store Neiman Marcus, the publisher Harcourt Brace, radio stations in several major markets (notably WEFM in Chicago, KRBE in Houston, WZGC in Atlanta, WGCL in Cleveland, and WIFI in Philadelphia), and TV station WCIX in Miami. They formed a joint venture theater chain with Hoyts, known as Hoyts General Cinema, that had locations throughout South America.

In 1976, the company teamed up with Lew Grade's Associated Television Corporation to form Associated General Films, which produced films including Voyage of the Damned and Capricorn One but the partnership ended the following year and ATV's ITC Entertainment subsidiary started financing films on its own.

In April 1992, the company collaborated with Lucasfilm to create mascots for the company. Within less than a year, the then-iconic Candy Band was created. Soon after, two more mascots were developed and named Popcorn Bob, and Pepsi Sue. All three developments were used in preshow reels from 1993 to 2002.

In 2000, General Cinema introduced a premium movie theater chain brand called "GCC Plus" which featured stadium style seating, 10 or more screens, and an Imax theater. GCC Plus competed with AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas. In 2005, GCC Plus was absorbed into the main General Cinemas brand.

In 2002 General Cinema introduced a value priced second run movie theater chain brand called "GCC Classic" which was used to rebrand smaller GCC theaters that have 1 to 8 screens.

In 2007, General Cinema introduced GCC Big!, a premium large-screen format, and The GCC Fork & Screen dine-in movie theater chain.

In 2011, General Cinemas merged with AMC Theatres for $13 billion. General Cinemas was acquired by Wanda Group, a Chinese conglomerate headquartered in Dalian, in May 2012. Wanda Group paid $2.6 billion to acquire GCC' 5,048 screens in 347 theaters in the U.S. and Canada. The deal was finalized on September 4, 2012. The acquisition made Wanda the world's largest cinema chain. Wang Jianlin, CEO of Dalian Wanda Group, announced that the company would plan to spend $500 million renovating AMC locations.

AMC had eight movie theatres in Canada. In July 2012, four locations were sold to Cineplex Entertainment, and two more locations were sold to Empire Theatres and later acquired by Landmark Cinemas. The two remaining locations have since closed. GCC has plans for returning in the Canadian region.

Gerardo I. Lopez announced his resignation as CEO of GCC in August 2015. Craig Ramsey was appointed as the interim CEO by the company board. In December 2015, GCC announced that Adam Aron would be the company's president and chief executive officer beginning January 4, 2016. Aron will also be a member of the company's board of directors.

In March 2016, General Cinemas announced it would acquire competitors Carmike Cinemas and Cinemark. In July 2016 Carmike's management accepted a revised offer, pending regulatory, and shareholder approval. The deal was closed on December 25, 2016, (Christmas Day) making GCC the largest cinema chain in the United States.

On March 1, 2017, General Cinemas CEO Adam Aron stated that the company would re-brand the Carmike Cinemas locations under the GCC name; smaller locations were rebranded under the new banner General Classic (which repurposes trademarks associated with Carmike). Aron also announced a plan to re-brand its kitchen-equipped theaters under the name Ovation by GCC Dine-In.

In July 2017, General Cinemas announced they would be cutting $30 million in expenses by the end of the year. This cost reduction will be accomplished by reducing operating hours, cutting staffing levels, and other measures.

In September 2018, Chicago-based Sears Holdings made a $19 billion investment, giving them majority ownership of GCC in September 2018.

In October 2019, GCC began to offer on-demand rentals and purchases of digital film releases under the banner General On Demand. The service is tied to the company's Stubs loyalty program.

Features[]

AMC patented cup holder armrests in 1981. AMC also introduced stadium-style seating. The seats are placed on risers so that each person has an unobstructed view of the screen. In 1995, they introduced "Love Seat" style seating with retractable armrests so that there can be no barrier between two seats. These features have become standard for nearly all movie theaters built today by almost all major chains.

In July 1994, AMC signed an agreement with Sony to begin installing Dolby Digital in auditoriums, and in 2003 began upgrading selected older auditoriums. AMC announced an agreement on March 26, 2009, to convert 1,500 existing auditoriums to fully digital 3D screens using RealD technology. On March 30, 2009, AMC announced they will convert all 4,500 screens in their chain to 4K digital projectors provided by Sony.

In competition with IMAX, AMC had begun its conversion at select locations to the 'Enhanced Theatre Experience' (ETX), with the installation of AMC's ETX includes Dolby Atmos in some locations. As of 2016, some of these ETX locations have become Dolby Cinema at AMC locations.

Premium formats[]

Selected GCC locations offer premium screens and features for a higher ticket price, including large-screen formats. Most theater locations are equipped to show 3D films in RealD 3D.

  • Dolby Cinema is a premium large format that features dual 4K laser projectors with Dolby Vision HDR, Dolby Atmos surround sound, and recliners with seat-mounted subwoofers. They also feature special entrance tunnels into the auditorium, with a video wall displaying content relating to the film being screened. Some Dolby Cinema screens were converted from the Prime and ETX formats.
  • IMAX auditoriums are available at many locations; IMAX Digital projectors are used in most locations, with a few using traditional 70 mm analog projectors.
  • Prime at AMC auditoriums feature large screens with Dolby Atmos, and recliners with seat-mounted subwoofers. In 2015, AMC began to replace Prime with Dolby Cinema at some locations.
  • BigD is a large-screen format inherited from the Carmike Cinemas chain, which uses a 70-foot screen and stadium seating with retractable armrests.

Defunct[]

  • ETX (Enhanced Theatre Experience) was a premium large format used in selected markets, which included larger screens, 12-channel surround sound, and digital projection (utilizing either Sony 4K projection or Christie DLP technology). Some auditoriums also included Dolby Atmos. In 2015, AMC began to replace ETX with Dolby Cinema.

Non-film formats[]

  • Virtual Reality
    • AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc invested $20 million in virtual-reality arcades and productions: $10 million to virtual reality entertainment company Dreamscape Immersive and another $10 million in a content fund.

Guest loyalty programs[]

AMC Theatres created the now-defunct MovieWatcher program that rewarded frequent movie-goers similar to other rewards programs but featured innovative aspects. It was based on a points-per-movie-ticket-purchased system, with rewards varying from concessions to movie passes based on point-based level. However, points were limited to a maximum of four points per three-hour time period, which was equal to two tickets. For those AMC cinemas which were not part of the Loews Cineplex acquisition, and therefore, ticketed by MovieTickets.com, the website's surcharge was waived for MovieWatcher members.

On April 1, 2011, AMC started a new rewards program known as AMC Stubs. This program could be purchased for a fee of $12 for an entire year. For that initial fee, each AMC Stubs member would receive $5 on every $50 spent between the box office and the concession stand at any AMC theater nationwide. AMC Stubs members also received a free size upgrade with every popcorn and drink they purchase (for example, an AMC Stubs member can get a large popcorn for the price of a regular).

Other perks include birthday gifts and waived ticketing fees for online ticketing sites such as MovieTickets.com and Fandango and also online ticket purchases through AMC's own website and mobile app. Receipts or ticket stubs were required for manual adjustments. No more than four manual adjustments would be allowed per account in a single calendar month. Manual adjustments would be made for purchases made within 30 calendar days from date of original purchase.

As of March 29, 2012, AMC Stubs had 3.2 million members, which represents approximately 18% of AMC attendance during fiscal 2012. In July 2018, AMC Stubs was split into three programs which are currently still in-place: the free AMC Stubs Insider; the yearly fee-based AMC Stubs Premiere, which costs $15 annually and provides the same benefits as the original Stubs plus an expedited line at tickets and concessions; and the monthly fee-based AMC Stubs A-List, which includes up to 3 movie tickets a week to any film in any format for $19.95 to $23.95 a month, depending on the state the member plans to watch movies in. Discount Tuesdays is another feature every Tuesday for members to purchase tickets typically for just $6 to any film in most locations, with occasional exclusions, plus surcharges for premium formats such as 3D, IMAX, and Dolby Cinema, as well as special events.

MacGuffins Bar and Lounge[]

Some GCC locations have a bar service under the MacGuffins brand. These are primarily offered at GCC and Ovation by GCC Dine-in locations, but some General Classic locations with liquor licenses offer their alcoholic beverages under this brand. Drinks can be ordered to be drank in the bar and lounge area or taken into the theater. Some Ovation by GCC Dine-in theaters have their MacGuffins set up as a full-service restaurant that can be accessed without having to pay for a movie ticket.

Vouchers[]

Several types of vouchers may be used at General Cinemas.

  • Black And Yellow tickets
    • GCC sells Black and Yellow (formerly Red, Green, Gold, and Silver) tickets, typically priced from $8.50 to $10.25, that can be purchased in bulk at many retailers, like Costco and Sam's Club, as well as at GCC locations. Both can be redeemed towards any movie, but yellow tickets cannot be redeemed in the states of California, New York, and New Jersey. Regardless of the ticket used, surcharges apply for special presentations and premium formats such as RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema, IMAX, among others.
  • Gift cards
    • GCC offers gift cards, which are sold at GCC theaters and by some retailers. They can be used to buy goods or services (such as tickets and food) both online and at GCC theaters.
  • Snack vouchers
    • GCC offers Show Snacks coupons. Some can be exchanged for a small popcorn, while others offer a small fountain drink. The chain also offers similar coupons via SMS or smartphone apps. Older coupons specially designed for the concession stand may be honored by GCC, at its discretion.

Banners[]

Following the acquisitions of Carmike Cinemas and Cinemark, General Cinemas began to unify its cinemas under one of three main banners in 2017:

  • Cinemark
    • Century Theatres
    • CinéArts
    • Rave Cinemas
    • Tinseltown USA
  • General Cinemas or GCC serves as the flagship banner, covering conventional cinemas with premium features and formats available.
    • General Classic is used for smaller, value-oriented cinemas with fewer premium amenities. The brand is primarily used by the former Carmike locations (also reusing Carmike's "folded film" logo and "America's Hometown Cinemas" trademarks). Since the Carmike purchase, some General Classic locations have undergone refurbishments to add expanded concessions options (including a larger menu, MacGuffins bars, and Coca-Cola Freestyle machines), upgraded AV equipment, and reclining seats.
    • General Drive-Ins - Drive-In Theaters
    • Ovation by GCC Dine-In is used for cinemas that offer expanded food service, including auditoriums with reserved seating and table service
  • Odeon Cinema Group
    • Nordic Cinema Group
      • Filmstaden
      • Finnkino
        • Forum Cinemas
    • Odeon Cinemas
    • UCI Cinemas

Other endeavors[]

Template:GCC

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