Are people ready to give MoviePass another shot?
The embattled movie ticketing service will soon find out as it launches three (slightly) pricier new subscription plans, the company's latest and most drastic attempt at revamping its business model since going into financial free-fall and drawing social-media scorn earlier this year.
Right now, all MoviePass subscribers pay $9.95 per month, which allows them to see three movies every 30 days from a select list of blockbusters and independent films that rotates daily.
But starting Jan. 1, 2019, the company is implementing a three-tier pricing structure, which determines how much you pay monthly by where you live. (Subscribers in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles, where average ticket prices are highest, will pay more than MoviePass users in less-populated areas of the country.)
The subscription options:
Select ($9.95 to $14.95 a month): The most basic plan – which is similar to the current model – lets customers see three movies monthly, excluding opening weekends, IMAX and 3D films. Film selections available with this plan will be announced through a weekly programming schedule, available online.
All Access ($14.95 to $19.95 a month): The mid-level plan also only includes three movies, but allows you to see them at any point during their theatrical runs. While you aren't restricted to a rotating list of films, IMAX and 3D aren't covered.
Red Carpet ($19.95 to $24.95 a month): Subscribers can see any three movies at any time, including one showing in IMAX 2D, IMAX 3D or RealD 3D per month.
"We decided to offer something that appeals to casual moviegoers across the country," while letting them choose whether price or flexibility is more important, says Khalid Itum, the company's new executive vice president. "It's not a one-size-fits-all MoviePass."
The average American sees four or five movies in a theater per year, according to a report published by the Motion Picture Association of America in April. So for most consumers, MoviePass' highly popular but short-lived plan of one film a day for $9.95 was unrealistic.
MoviePass grew from a mere 20,000 subscribers in August 2017 to more than 3 million this past June. Its parent company, Helios and Matheson, covered the cost of subscribers' tickets, losing millions in a matter of months and causing app outages when they ran out of money. As a result, the service was roundly mocked online, as users aired their complaints on Twitter and journalists declared it "dead."
"By having it unlimited, we were attracting a small, but very costly percentage (of subscribers) that prevented us from providing a great and consistent service to the casual moviegoer," CEO Mitch Lowe says.
The company will continue working to improve customer service and app issues, Itum says, and plans to eventually introduce advance ticketing. (Currently, subscribers can only check in for showings the same day and when they're near the theater.)
And while "we would love to win back (past) subscribers, it's not our No. 1 priority," adds Itum, who understands that many have moved on to other movie ticket subscription services such as Sinemia (whose tiered plans include three 2D movies for $8.99 a month) and AMC Stubs-A-List (offering three movies a week for $19.99 monthly, but only at AMC theaters).
"No one has time to see 12 movies a month," Itum says of the latter. "(AMC) came in competitive and we respect that, but we're confident what we're offering is aimed at the right audience."