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.)