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An obsessively close reading of AMC’s Nicole Kidman promo

We come to AMC theaters to laugh, to cry and to care, and Nicole Kidman is with us every step of the way.
We come to AMC theaters to laugh, to cry and to care, and Nicole Kidman is with us every step of the way.

“We come to this place for magic.”

For Oxford residents craving a movie theater experience, the closest option is the AMC Classic Hamilton 8, located about 15 minutes away by car. After making the drive, buying tickets, finding a seat and waiting through the trailers, most would be ready to settle in for a few hours of entertainment.

Then She shows up.

In the time between the final pre-movie advertisements and the film itself, a video begins playing of a dark road covered in puddles, quickly broken by a pair of heels walking through. A woman slowly removes her hood, revealing a face many moviegoers will instantly recognize: Australian icon Nicole Kidman.

“We come to AMC theaters to laugh, to cry, to care. Because we need that — all of us.”

A smile appears on Kidman’s face as she stares at the glowing red AMC sign affixed above the entryway. She narrates her way through a hallway of numbered screens and finds her way into one to reveal a completely empty theater, stepping up to the top row as the projector kicks on behind her.

Less than halfway through this bizarre promotional video, several questions already come to mind. Firstly: When is Kidman arriving at this theater?

Movie theaters do most of their business in the evening, once the responsibilities of work or school have concluded and people are looking for something to do with their free time. The likelihood that Kidman could show up at peak hours and get a showing all to herself is incredibly low.

There are thus two potential explanations. 

One, Kidman is going to see a less popular film that would have less appeal to a general audience. Unfortunately, this theory is quickly debunked.

“That indescribable feeling we get when the lights begin to dim, and we go somewhere we’ve never been before.”

With this line comes the view of the screen, and what should be playing but “Jurassic World,” a film that made over a billion dollars at the box office. 

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This reveal does lend credence to the second possible conclusion: That Kidman is renting out a theater for a private showing. This is a practice that became increasingly popular in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with theaters (including the AMC chain) offering both new releases and older favorites.

It does come at a cost though, with AMC themselves charging at least $150 for an older film and closer to $200 for more recent choices. This incentivizes large groups to split the cost between themselves instead of one person paying the whole fee.

And to restate: Kidman is here by herself.

“Not just entertained but somehow reborn together.”

In fact, it appears “Jurassic World” is not even the only film Kidman is watching. With the next few cuts, we see her in (presumably) the same theater enjoying “Wonder Woman,” “La La Land” and “Creed.”

Set aside the question of why Kidman would choose to only watch films from 2015-2017 — is she watching these films back-to-back?

Combined, these four films would run 526 minutes, or about 8.77 hours. Being charitable and taking the earliest projected times of sunset in the continental United States (usually around 5 p.m.) as Kidman’s starting point, she would leave the theater between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. the next day.

“Dazzling images on a huge silver screen. Sound that I can feel.”

There’s also the cost of renting out four private screenings. Taking AMC’s lowest price, given to films they designate as “Fan Fave Films,” that’s $289 per film for a theater seating up to 40 people (which is what the theater in the video appears to be), coming to a total cost of $1,156.

For the average person, this is an unfathomable price. But Kidman is no average person.

“Somehow, heartbreak feels good in a place like this. Our heroes feel like the best part of us.”

With a projected net worth of around $250 million, $1,156 is a drop in the bucket for Kidman. If she wants to rent out a theater for a solo evening of non-stop movies, there’s not much stopping her.

AMC airs this particular video in front of every showing of every film that plays in their theaters, and has been since at least last year, though it feels like much longer. As such, each repeated viewing reveals new oddities to pick up on — the particulars of the films, where she chooses to sit, how a drink magically appears and disappears at one point, her attire, why Kidman is never shown leaving.

A full dissection of this advertisement could take all the ink devoted to a single newspaper and more. It is that strange and dense.

And for anyone growing tired of it: AMC recently announced they were extending Kidman’s contract another year.

“Stories feel perfect and powerful. Because here … they are.”