Posted in Opinion, Tech

MoviePass – Red Flags Are Rising

Not too long ago MoviePass started a too good to be true plan. See one movie a day for $10 a month. The way it worked is they send you a MasterCard and you swipe it as your payment after you check into the movie. It took forever to get the card mailed to you, but once you had it the possibilities felt endless. The ability to see a movie on your own time then go see it again with a friend essentially for free was awesome. This not only increased the number of times I went to the theater from approximately once every three to four months to two to three times a month. Since I wasn’t paying for tickets, I found myself spending more money at the concession stands. There’s no doubt in my mind that this new subscription service was a benefit for both the movie theater and myself.

With ticket prices in my area ranging between $8.75 and $10.75 purchasing nor than one ticket in a month becomes a cost for MoviePass. MoviePass pays full price for tickets. When you check in, the cost of the ticket is transferred to your MoviePass MasterCard to use as your payment method. With people going as far as seeing a movie a day for the month to get the most out of their money, it became quickly obvious that MoviePass needed to start looking at changes in their process. This is where red flags started to show up.

Red flag number one – MoviePass introduces a change to pricing. New members would have to pay for a year up front. The monthly payment option went away. This really wasn’t that big of a deal in the beginning. Most people wouldn’t put a second thought to this since it is common practice for many subscription services.

Red flag number two – MoviePass starts a store for MoviePass merchandise. This was the typical stuff. T-shirts, hoodies, mugs, all carrying the MoviePass logo. This was a little outside of the typical business than MoviePass typically competes in. This did cause me to raise an eyebrow.

Red flag number three – MoviePass makes adjustments to what your subscription really means. MoviePass starts to limit the number of times you can go see a movie to one time.  This starts to become a big deal to me. I’m happy to go see a movie by myself  and then see it later with friends. This has an impact on my process and has me to start looking around at other options.

Red flag number four – MoviePass starts adding surging pricing for “popular movies” and “popular times”. The definition of these groups of words seem to be unclear, so i’ll define what I’ve found so far monitoring the situation. Popular movies – These seem to be any movie that hasn’t been out for a month or more that isn’t advertising through MoviePass. As for popular times, I originally thought essentially any time out side of typical work hours, but I’ve found that the middle of the day on Wednesday seems to qualify for popular times. This really felt like a final straw but I decided to feel out pricing. Initially I found that movies came with an extra fee of $2.55. This is a quarter of the subscription price so it would make me flinch at a ticket purchase but its not so bad. Over this weekend, surging prices have ranged from $3.50 to $6.00. This  comes to over half the subscription price. If I were to go see Teen Titans Go To The Movies, and that was the only movie I went to see this month, that ticket would cost me $16.00. With two kids, I don’t get to go see movies as often as I would like. This was part of the appeal of MoviePass. Going to a single movie essentially covered my cost.

Red flag number five – MoviePass stops processing payments. MoviePass has to borrow five million to cover expenses to get their services running again the next day. This appears to be the coming to the end for the too good to be true service.

With over three million subscribers, MoviePass should be able to leverage these numbers to broker cheaper ticket prices and possibly even offer location based advertisements. MoviePass seems dead set on avoiding raising prices on their base fees even though this seems to be one of the few ways they are going to actually be able to maintain this service.

moviepass and AMC.png

AMC has decided to step into the subscription theater movie market. AMC is offering 3 movies a week with the additional discounts of their stubs service for $20.00 a month. Unlike MoviePass, this is limited to just AMC theaters. Unlike MoviePass, AMC’s option allows for 3D and IMAX movies. MoviePass took to Twitter to make fun of this service, but with what’s going on today with MoviePass, a stable $20.00 vs a minimum $13.50 with easy potential to grow pass $20.00, AMC sounds like a much better option.

moviepass twitter AMC response

I can tell you that MoviePass’ access to my credit card isn’t long for this world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone should jump ship. What do you think? let me know in the comments below.

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