Few companies in the movie business have generated as much buzz as MoviePass, the infamous in-theatre movie subscription service that rose and fell dramatically between mid-2017 and mid-2019.
The company was founded in 2011 as a subscription service for moviegoers, offering unlimited tickets to see movies in theatres for a fixed monthly rate. In August 2017, the financial firm Helios and Matheson acquired a controlling stake in MoviePass and announced that it was reducing the price to $9.95 per month for a subscription that allowed seeing up to one movie per day. In many cases, this was less than the price of purchasing a single movie ticket.
The race was on, and millions of consumers signed up for the service, which put a huge financial strain on the company because MoviePass was obligated to reimburse exhibitors the full price of a ticket for each screening its customers attended. MoviePass’s business plan promised future profits for the company by selling the data that it collected from its subscribers, as well as a channel to promote movies and complementary products. Many exhibitors were wary that MoviePass had plans to control the sale of concessions to their customers, taking a bite out of one of the most important sources of profits for theatres.
Eventually, millions of dollars in losses were too much to sustain, and MoviePass crashed as quickly as it had risen. However, the residual effect of moviegoing subscriptions proved to be a winner, as many large exhibitors including AMC, Regal, Cinemark, and Alamo went on to create their own subscription services to serve their most loyal and frequent customers.
Fast forward to 2022, and what’s old is new again. A new MoviePass company has been reborn from the ashes of the old entity and will be relaunching its service next month. This time, customers can choose among three tiers of service priced at $10, $20, and $30 per month. At each tier, customers are buying credits that they can redeem for moviegoing, with tickets to big movies on their opening weekend costing more in credits than smaller movies at screenings during the week. Even though an “unlimited moviegoing” option will no longer exist, there appears to be significant interest in MoviePass’s return, with nearly 500,000 users already signed up to be on the waitlist prior to its re-launch.
See also: MoviePass Is Relaunching Next Month After Failing in 2019 (New York Times) and MoviePass is back. So is the idea that’s killing movies. (Washington Post)