Technologizer

More on MoviePass

MoviePass's Netflix-like service for movie theaters is clever, but screen owners are still deciding how they feel about it.

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Back in March, I wrote about MoviePass, a service which lets you pay a flat fee and go to dozens of movies a month, at almost any theater in America. Its creators aren’t partnering with theaters; instead, they’ve come up with a clever system involving a location-aware smartphone app and a Discover debit card configured so that you can only use it to pay for movies, and only after you’ve checked in using the app. The company ends up paying full price for tickets, but hopes to turn a profit by selling related items such as DVDs, providing data to marketers and maybe, eventually, striking deals with theaters.

Brent Lang of The Wrap has a good story on the service and how the movie-theater business is reacting; it was unhappy about an earlier incarnation but isn’t actively fighting this new version, at least for now:

A previous test of the service in San Francisco came undone when theaters refused to accept vouchers that MoviePass gave its customers.

The concern at the time was that MoviePass would try to influence ticket prices. AMC Theaters publicly decried the service, while Landmark Theatres CEO Ted Mundorff told TheWrap, “We are not interested in outside entities setting ticket prices for us.”

The debit card under the new plan works independent of exhibitors. Users will pay $25 to $40 a month, based on geography, for which they can see one 2D movie a day at 93 percent of theaters nationwide. All they need to do to set up the card is download an iPhone or Android app.

Using a card provided by MoviePass, I’ve gone to a couple of movies in the San Francisco area in the past few weeks: the whole process worked without any hiccups and was no more complicated than buying tickets from a service such as Fandango. You have to be an avid filmgoer for this to make sense — if you go three or more times a month, you should save money — but if the startup manages to make its service into a viable business and screen owners don’t quash it, it could be pretty cool for the truly movie-obsessed. (For now, it’s still in a private beta.)

3 comments
GrnLanternCub
GrnLanternCub

I have had this membership for a year now...and for me, it has been a HUGE money-saver.  Unfortunately, recently they instituted a new policy where you have to allow 24 hours to pass between showings, so that makes things a bit more difficult for the movie nut who may go almost daily.  But, despite this you can still save a lot of money if you live in a city with a lot of theaters and go to a lot of movies (at least 4 movies a month makes it worth your membership fee).  

The only other stipulations that they have are that you can only see a title once using their card, and it is only for 2D/non-IMAX showings.  


A little trick for seeing 3D/IMAX movies with this....buy a ticket for a regular showing using the MoviePass card, and then go to Customer Service at the theater and tell them that you bought the wrong ticket....you will just pay the difference for the IMAX/3D showing out of pocket.... :-)  


During the summer, there were 2 or 3 months in which I was able to see 10-20 movies each month using the service.  HUGE savings.  On top of things, because of the format you can use the theatre loyalty cards like AMC Stubs with this card, so you get even more bang for your buck! 



JforJacob
JforJacob

I’m eagerly waiting for my card in the mail (should arrive today). Here in NYC, I can use this in almost any theater – not just the big multiplexes, but the IFC theater, BAM, Lincoln Center, etc. Unfortunately, the only theater it won’t work in is my favorite – the cash-only Film Forum :(

Can’t wait for the option to reserve for a second person, and I do occasionally enjoy an IMAX movie, which isn't included in the plan.

VinnieBartilucci
VinnieBartilucci

The general consensus is that theaters make the majority of their money at the candy counter - presuming these filmgoers arrive hungry and buy their food there, the theaters should still do quite well.