AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron's 2020 Pay Rises to $20.9 Million

AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron
Amy Sussman/FilmMagic

AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron

The exec made $9.67 million in 2019, before the novel coronavirus pandemic hobbled the exhibition giant and forced a major debt restructuring.

AMC Entertainment Holding CEO Adam Aron received compensation of $20.92 million in 2020, up from $9.67 million in 2019, according to the cinema giant's proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

Aron took home $14.8 million in stock awards last year, compared with $6.48 million a year earlier, on top of his base salary for 2020 that amounted to $1.1 million, just down from $1.25 million in 2019. A key driver of his higher pay was a $5 million bonus last year, while Aron received no bonuses during the previous two years from 2018.

AMC Theaters is the world's largest exhibitor. "While 2020 had an impressive start with strong January and February box office performance, the COVID-19 pandemic presented the company with the greatest obstacle in its 100-year history. The COVID-19 pandemic and the public health response to it had a catastrophic impact on the company's business and made previously established short- and long-term performance targets extraneous to our core objective — the company's survival," the parent of AMC Theatres said in a statement in the SEC filing.

AMC Theatres imposed pay cuts and furloughs for top management early on during the pandemic to reduce a cash burn. And parent AMC Entertainment has raised new debt, restructured its borrowings and sold off assets to bolster its balance sheet liquidity.

Despite that COVID-19 hit, the company's board of directors set its executive compensation to retain top management amid the pandemic crisis. "Recognizing that retention of the Company's leadership was one of the most critical issues it faced in confronting the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the compensation committee made a number of strategic and extraordinary decisions during 2020. We believe that our exercises of discretion were reasonable and necessary in light of our executive officers' actions in circumventing potentially catastrophic outcomes for stockholders," the exhibition giant added.

AMC's proxy statement also showed Craig Ramsey, former CFO of AMC Entertainment, made $377,200 last year, down from $2.62 million in 2019. New AMC Entertainment CFO Sean Goodman made $4.24 million last year in his first year with the company.

John D. McDonald, executive vp U.S. operations, took home $3.4 million in overall compensation for 2020, up from $2.28 million in overall pay for the year earlier.

On Feb. 26, AMC in a separate SEC filing, said it had awarded top execs $8.3 million in bonuses, including $3.75 million for CEO Aron.

"The bonuses were approved in order to recognize the extraordinary efforts of employees to maintain the company’s business and preserve stockholder value during the COVID-19 pandemic, encourage continued engagement and retention, and incentivize our management and employees during the continuing and unprecedented difficult business conditions," the parent of AMC Theatres said.