The way we watch movies has changed drastically over the last 15 years. VHS tapes went extinct and DVD’s became king. The invention of Blu-Ray became the best new thing. Redbox made movies quicker and easier to obtain. Netflix made watching movies even more convenient through online streaming. The once renowned Blockbuster empire fell to its knees. Despite all of these changes, the movie theater industry has come away relatively unscathed. Now, a new competitor is looking to challenge the way we see movies on the silver screen. That competitor is called MoviePass, and they are offering members the ability to see hundreds of movies at the theater for only $9.95 per month.
MoviePass started 6 years ago as the brainchild of entertainment experts Stacy Spikes and Hamet Watt. It is currently operated by former Redbox and Netflix executive Mitch Lowe, who has a reputation for upsetting the status-quo and helping revolutionize the industry. In an article with Variety, Mike Lowe said: “MoviePass’ patented technology will allow millions of consumers to go to the movies more than ever and is proven to substantially increase attendance for the theaters.” According to their website, they support more than 91% of theaters nationwide. There are no contracts, so you can unsubscribe at any time with no fear of penalties.
How Does MoviePass Work?
Once you register your account on their website, you will be shipped your very own MoviePass card within 5-7 business days. When you want to see a new movie, just head over to your theater of choice, sign in to the MoviePass mobile app with location-enabled, select the movie then screen time from the listings, and voila! The exact amount for the ticket will be loaded onto your MoviePass card just like magic! You can only see one movie per day, but not in IMAX or 3D. However, you can see a movie on the first day it hits theaters.
In this interview with CNET, Lowe explains. “Essentially, it’s a Mastercard…Our patent is kind of a remote, GPS-driven credit card authorization technology…You pick the movie, the theater, and the showtime, and when you get within 100 yards of the theater with your phone, you check-in.” He continues, “within two seconds, it makes that credit card work – but only at those machines, for only about 30 minutes and only for the amount the ticket costs.” So no, don’t try to buy popcorn and snacks with the card. It only works for movies.
Okay, So What’s the Catch?
That’s a tricky question to answer. There is good and bad news to this new price change. The good news is you can literally see 31 movies in the theater for only $10 with no contracts (it used to be $50!). The bad news is there are no contracts, so they can change the price whenever they feel like it, which they have done in the past. However, you can unsubscribe if it changes, or if you don’t like it. Also, MoviePass has come out to say they can guarantee the $10 price tag for 12 months. Oh, before I forget, the largest movie theater chain in the nation hates them.
After MoviePass announced the price drop on Tuesday, AMC released a statement where they call the business “shaky”, “unsustainable”, and claim it only sets up moviegoers for disappointment. They also mention that “AMC is consulting with its attorneys to determine if or how AMC can prevent a subscription program…from being used at AMC Theatres”. It’s not hard to see how much AMC dislikes the idea behind MoviePass, but is that distaste warranted?
Why All The Hate?
In this article by Business Insider, Mike Lowe says, “They don’t understand our business model…Even active moviegoers had to think is $14.95 really worth it? At $9.95, even people who rarely go say I’d be crazy not to do that.” He continues, “The fascinating thing is we use a MasterCard debit card. We pay full price for the tickets we buy.” In the previously mentioned article by CNET, Lowe reiterates and expands upon that last sentence. “We pay the full price of the ticket, whether our customers want to go to one movie or ten movies…What’s crazy about AMC’s statement is our customers go twice as often, spend 123 percent more on concessions each time — which is at least 80 percent margins for the theaters — and we pay full price.”
These statements make me wonder why AMC is so angry. They still receive the full price of each ticket; the only one losing money here is MoviePass, so why are they so upset? A few months ago an article from Variety announced that “research demonstrates that [MoviePass] can help theaters attract crowds and claims that its $30-$45-a-month program boosts attendance by 111%.” If that research is accurate, the new price of $9.95 is sure to cause a large increase in attendance to theaters, AMC included, thus bringing in more money for theaters like AMC. Why hate free money?
Although the fate of MoviePass is unknown, and we’re not sure how long this price will last, one thing is certain: It’s worth a shot. For $10 you can see 30 movies per month, which is an unbelievably good deal; anything more than one movie is a discount to you. Whether or not you decide to try MoviePass is up to you, but I know I’ll be trying it out. I’ll be taking advantage of this discount while I can. Even if the company ends up flopping, at least I can say I was a part of it. Thanks for reading!