Have an Account? E-Mail Address Passcode
| Register Now
MoviePass Creates Waves with Promises of Cheap Movies

Posted on Friday, August 18th, 2017 6:27 PM

Movie Tickets Graphic

Earlier this week, a subscription service called MoviePass created quite a few headlines when it announced that it would be lowering its monthly subscription price to $9.95. The service offers a no-contract monthly subscription, where you can watch movies in the theater for a low monthly price. Comparisons to Netflix would be apt, since its CEO is one of the founders of Netflix.

MoviePass says that it currently works with 91% of theaters, including AMC, Cinemark, and Regal. The web site was down earlier this week (probably due to the sudden surge in publicity) so it was difficult to find anything in the way of solid information about how the service was going to work going forward, which theaters it was working with, and any limitations that there might be. Their site appears to be functional, but all the useful information is hidden behind a wall that requires you to sign in first.

The promise seems too good to be true. See a movie a day, in a movie theater, for under $10. Many services with "unlimited" plans for a monthly price depend upon discounts from the supplier of the product and/or they depend on people not using the service as often as they possibly could for maximum value. I know that Netflix makes out pretty good sometimes when I don't watch and return my Blu-ray discs frequently!

Since it appears that they aren't using any special deals with movie studios or theaters to obtain better pricing, and high likelihood that people would see more than two movies per month (the lowest promo pricing for first-run movies is about $5 on Tuesday with many chains), this certainly does appear to be too good to be true.

Shortly after the news was released, AMC Theatres issued a public notice that said that it objected to the service and would work to make sure that the service wouldn't be usable at AMC locations.

AMC believes that holding out to consumers that first run movies can be watched in theatres at great quantities for a monthly price of $9.95 isn’t doing moviegoers any favors. In AMC’s view, that price level is unsustainable and only sets up consumers for ultimate disappointment down the road if or when the product can no longer be fulfilled. AMC also believes that promising essentially unlimited first-run movie content at a price below $10 per month over time will not provide sufficient revenue to operate quality theatres nor will it produce enough income to provide film makers with sufficient incentive to make great new movies. Therefore, AMC will not be able to offer discounts to MoviePass in the future, which seems to be among their aims.

Whether this is AMC placing a shot across MoviePass' bow, or just talking harshly until they can come out with their own competing plan, is hard to know. However, if they do figure out a way to lock out MoviePass holders, and especially if the other other major chains do the same, it's difficult to see how the service makes it past the next couple of months.

Industry site Deadline Hollywood published an article today about the topic, and provides some insight on the service:

Q: How do MoviePass subscribers buy tickets?
A: Customers who pay $9.95 a month get a debit card that they can use at theaters to buy a ticket. It’s good for up to one movie a day.

Q: Does that include Imax, 3D, recliner seats or other venues with premium priced tickets?
A: No for Imax or 3D. As for recliner seats, that’s hit-or-miss — you’ll have to check. MoviePass decides which ones to include, mostly after looking at how much of a premium the theater charges.

Q: Any other restrictions?
A: Yes, several. You must install the MoviePass app on your smartphone; it shows you the available theaters and showtimes (in other words, not including 3D and Imax venues).

But you can’t use the ticket buying function until you’re within 100 yards of the theater. At that point, you can select the film there that you want to see. MoviePass will apply to your card enough funds to pay for that ticket. The clock is ticking: The authorization expires if you don’t buy your ticket from the theater kiosk or box office within a half hour.

Q: What if there’s a long line that takes more than a half hour?
A: You can use the app again to secure funds for the same movie and showing.

Q: If the theater has reserved seating, can I make a choice from home and buy the ticket later?
A: “That’s a problem,” CEO Lowe tells me. Users can reserve seats at about 6% of the theaters it serves; they have direct relationships with MoviePass. “It is definitely one of the shortcomings of our system,” he says — but one he’s trying to solve by forging more direct relationships.

Click the Read link below to view the full article.

I think that last item above is going to trip them up. More and more theaters are switching to reserved seating to go along with their luxury powered recliners that they are installing to attract customers (often with an upcharge or an uptick to the base admission price).

Even if AMC doesn't block MoviePass customers, even if no other chains do either, and even if the MoviePass really works with 91% of theaters as they claim, I don't see how the model is sustainable. They're going to lose money on anyone that sees more than one movie a month, so they're going to have to make it up by getting discounts on tickets, selling customer data, or selling advertising to their customers, or some combination of these. Will customers put up with getting ads on their phones and in their inboxes (and possibly Facebook feeds)? Will they allow their information to be sold?

What's the threshold that people will accept in order to watch movies cheaply? Facebook has succeeded in offering their service for free in exchange for people giving up their private information and being advertised to in a targeted manner, so perhaps MoviePass is onto something.

Or perhaps, they'll burn through their investment money quickly, and it will only be a memory by this time next year.

What Do You Think?

Would you sign up for a subscription service like MoviePass? Would you see more movies in movie theaters if you did? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

Related News Articles

Add Your Comments

Reader VoiceReader Comments

No comments found. Be the first and let us know what you think!

Add Your Comments

Warning: Please login
Commenting on Journal Articles is available only to our readers who have customized this site, which makes it easier for you to complete the form and for us to contact you with any questions or concerns about your comments.

Please login or register a new account before continuing.

Already Registered?

Log in to retrieve your saved settings.

E-Mail Address:
BigScreen Passcode:

Forget Your Passcode?

Send My Passcode To Me

Not Registered? Create a New Account!

E-Mail Address
In case we need to contact you. A valid E-Mail address is required, profiles with invalid addresses will be removed.
Please Confirm Your E-Mail Address
ZIP Code
This helps us display theaters that are near you.

Our registered members enjoy more features, including:

Basic accounts are free -- sign up today!

Concerned About Privacy?

So are we! We won't sell, trade, or share your personal information with anyone unless required by law. For more information, please read our Privacy Policy.

Home - About Us - Ad Info - Feedback
Journal/Blog - The Marquee - Movie Links - News and Events - Now Showing - Reader Reviews
Customize - VIP Service

The BigScreen Cinema Guide is a service of SVJ Designs LLC. All graphics, layout, and structure of this service (unless otherwise specified) are Copyright © 1995-2018, SVJ Designs. The BigScreen Cinema Guide is a trademark of SVJ Designs. All rights reserved.

'ACADEMY AWARDS®' and 'OSCAR®' are the registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Find Us on Facebook