A curious thing happened Monday morning: Shares of struggling AMC Theatres leapt by as much as 56%, to $6.41, after a report circulated that Amazon held talks with the movie chain over a potential takeover.
The report's controversial publisher, the U.K.'s Daily Mail, said it was unclear if the discussions were still active or if they would lead to a deal, citing unnamed sources. (Neither AMC nor Amazon responded to Fortune's request for comment, though Amazon told others that it does not comment on speculation.) Whatever the report's veracity, the impact the speculation had on AMC's stock was very much real, and a fascinating development for the world's largest movie theater chain given its recent fortunes.
AMC, like all movie theater companies and virtually the entire entertainment industry, has been hit hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic. In mid-April, the Leawood, Kan. company's stock was down a staggering 70% year to date. AMC also has been the subject of several reports stating that its bankruptcy was not a matter of if, but when. And the company recently engaged in a public row with Universal Pictures after the studio successfully released Trolls World Tour on demand and touted the viability of digital releases even after theaters reopen—a perceived insult to its once-happy partner.