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MoviePass - Unlimited Movies for $50/Month, Too Good to Be True?

by
June 29, 2011
Source: The Film Stage, Mashable

MoviePass

"Are you ready to join a club that will upgrade your movie watching experience forever?" My friend Jordan from The Film Stage just told me about a new service he'd heard about on Mashable called MoviePass. Launching only in the San Francisco/Bay Area at the moment, MoviePass offers members the ability to see an unlimited number of movies in theaters for only $50 per month. I want this right now! It integrates with a mobile phone app (iPhone/Android) that allows you to reserve tickets and use your phone to get the tickets. "See as many movies as you desire at hundreds of cinema locations." How are they pulling this off?

If you're inherently interested, like me, in the concept of a "MoviePass" for $50/month that gets you into an unlimited number of movies, you might as well just visit MoviePass.com and dive in right away. However, for those looking for more details, I've included their introduction video below as well. As sweet as this is, there are some catches, and they're kind of big ones. Members are limited to seeing one movie per day through MoviePass, and they can only see a movie one time. If you go see the same movie again, you have to pay for tickets from then on. Ah, now I think I'm starting to see how this might is working on their backend.

Other conditions are that tickets must be purchased day of the show and that, as expected, 3D and IMAX showings will cost an extra $3 (which members will just pay the difference for while in the system). So it maybe was a little too good to be true after all, unfortunately, but this concept is still about as close to an ideal moviegoing subscription service I've ever seen. I've never really been a big fan of the loyalty programs at most movie theaters because they don't really offer much, but this is exactly the kind of "membership service" that I'd love to be a part of, just because it sounds like it allows you the freedom to go see any/every movie that comes out in a movie, whenever you want, without having to worry about buying tickets for it.

I'm honestly impressed that this even exists, though it is currently just a start-up, and looks as good as it does, because I know from experience movie theaters and studios like to have a lot (read: complete) control over the exchange of tickets and earning of money from any/every sale. It doesn't sound like they have any partnerships with the theaters, or even with Fandango or MovieTickets.com, which may actually be a good thing because they won't be restrictive to certain theaters, and that's a rarity these days. Apparently the MoviePass membership also includes "VIP treatment with invitations to advance screenings and premieres," as well as "discount popcorn, restaurant vouchers and more!" I'd sign up in a second if this was nearer me!

Given that we're now in a new tech/web bubble, with Facebook and Groupon ruling the world, I'm expecting to see even more creative concepts mashing up the world of technology and cinema. We've got some ideas for apps of our own that we're working on, but in the meantime I'm always curious to see what else is out there. I would love to try out MoviePass, but I'm unfortunately in Los Angeles and will have to wait until they bring it here. But considering this is the home of Hollywood and we have unique theater chains like Arclight, I'm worried it's going to be a challenge for them to operate here without running into problems.

Speaking of their future, on Mashable they include a few hints at what's coming up from an interview with the CEO. Word is that they're looking at expanding into New York City next, maybe this fall. However, they might have different prices in various areas, as we all know movie tickets are priced differently in every city anyway. They're also looking into a "roaming" or "nationwide" subscription plan that isn't limited to one city. I like that concept, but it's rare I see movies out of town, and when I do it's only once, but that's just me. I'm definitely intrigued and will be keeping a very close watch on MoviePass. What do you guys think?

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  • Dre
    I'd imagine there would be some sort of revenue sharing with the theaters - as they would likely see a spike in concession sales, where the real profits are.
    • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
      Yea, I'm very curious to hear if MoviePass has some revenue sharing model, or some other financial model to "pay off" the theaters/studios. I would guess they do, but you never know, maybe it's all on the tech side and they're just "buying" tickets for you?
  • Daniel Felts
    Try living in MS. I'm never gonna see this thing lol.
  • Anonymous
    We had this in Portugal years ago, and it was cheaper I believe. It didn't have much sucess and never quite made it.
  • David Banner
    Hm...30 movies a month-max 1 pr day-for $50 a month is $1.666 pr movie; its a sweet deal. So, it's not unlimited, the unlimited part lies in that there wont be more than 30 different movies a month at the given theatre, that's how they can 'get away' with saying that. People maybe go to the movies once a week, so then $50 is ca. normal price for 4 visits? I think the theatres will be the winners, with increased sales of the popcorn-that the movie studioes do not see any revenue from. I do really like the part where you get special offers to buy the movie after you have seen it. But, I'd much rather like a system where I got the movie at half price(or less) on Blu-Ray if I bought a normal movie ticket at the theatre, and not just a discount as they mention in the video above. Or maybe: my $25-30 paid upfront granted me a movie ticket that includes the movie on Blu-Ray aswell(sent later ofc). 8/10 times I buy the movie on Blu-Ray(or on DvD in the past) after seeing it in the theatres.
  • http://twitter.com/sleepyskunk The Sleepy Skunk
    I get unlimited free movies in Canada thanks to Scotiabank's SCENE program (www.scene.ca). They give a free movie (1000 pts) every time I spend a thousand dollars with my credit card (which I use to pay for everything). Same concept as Moviepass, zero dollars a month. Kinda hard to beat that, folks! :)
    • Pyronaut
      Sorry, but having to spend $1000 for each movie watched is not nearly the same as unlimited free movies like you claim. Let's say you watch 10 movies a month on MoviePass - you'd have to spend $10,000/month on your credit card. Most people don't even make that much.
      • http://twitter.com/sleepyskunk The Sleepy Skunk
        I personally find that aside from the primetime periods of June to July and November to December, only two or three movies per month are worth seeing on a big screen. The rest makes more sense to watch at home. You can disagree with me on that but I can tell you lots of moviegoers think like me. For that majority, the Scene program is a perfect fit.
        • Pyronaut
          Fair enough, but that's still different than the "unlimited" that you claimed. A better way to say it would be that you get to see all the movies YOU want with your scene card. Not to knock your card, but at the end of the day that's nothing special. I have a basic credit card that gives me 1% cash back on most purchases, and 3% on gas/groceries. Let's average that out to 1.5% (the value can obviously vary). If I spend $1000, I get $15 back, and I can get cinema ticket vouchers for $8-$10 (depending on if it's Cineplex or Empire), so at the end of the day I could actually get MORE than one movie ticket for each $1000 spent with my regular old non-scene card. Anyway, I probably wouldn't see more than 5 movies at the cinema in a month, so the $50 cost could just be covered in the vouchers I get (through a free web site that gives "perks"). Happy viewing :)
  • Englishman in Reno
    These have been available in the UK for over a decade, but it's better because: a) It's 15GBP per month (approx $24) b) You can watch the same movie as many times as you like c) If a movie sucks, you can walk out and get a ticket for another one that may start soon I was GENUINELY disappointed that a system like this didn't exist when I moved over here.
    • Englishman in Reno
      Also: d) You can see as many movies in one day as you physically are able to!
    • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
      Yes, but I think the BIG difference is those are always at ONE theater chain. Apparently this MoviePass will work at various cinemas all over the city, not just one theater chain. I've heard about this setup in the UK, but has it worked well? Would you still use it if you were there?
      • Anonymous
        How much does a movie ticket cost in the states anyway? Because in Portugal the normal 2-D price with student discount is 4.20 euros. The problem with this kind of deals is that most people don't have enough time to go that many times per month to the cinema, to make it a rentable deal. And even if they do, some months there aren't any good movies to watch.
  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3769949/ thatpj
    I'm really liking the concept. It'd definitely cut down on my movie going costs!
  • vl
    Here in the UK, one of the biggest cinema chains has an unlimited scheme. Only £15 a month which is about 24 dollars. You can see as many films a day as you like. And you are able to see the same film as many times as you like. £1.50 ($2.40) Extra for 3D. I've been a member for years. Can't imagine paying regular ticket prices if it didn't exist.
    • vl
      We also have 2 cinema tickets for the price of 1 on Wednesdays and if you are an unlimited subscriber you can get a guest in for free everytime you see a film that day.
  • MegaMan3k
    $50 seems steep if you can't rewatch movies. The one movie a day thing I can understand, though. But right now I don't watch five movies a month in the theaters unless I am going to the same movie with a different group of friends. I'd lose money on this. 
  • Shane
    No thanks. That's why I pay for one matinee and see three, saves me money every time.
    • WB Exec
      I love doing that. Movie hopping is great. Here in Toronto we have nothing like that plan.
  • Craig
    I probably wouldn't spend $50 at the theater in six months.
  • tcloud82
    In NYC if you have Cablevision and have the triple play package (phone/internet/tv) you get 2 free tickets every tuesday for any movie at Clearview Cinemas but you have to go early to pick up your tickets because everybody goes on tuesday, every movie no matter what is either packed or sold-out but at $13 a ticket x2 going for free every tuesday four times a month is saving me $104 in tickets which is basically the cost of the triple play package.
  • Anonymous
    I would get this but only for 1 summer month, either July or August. June-July is obviously loaded with blockbuster and must-see movies, and I might be lucky enough to catch some the May and even late spring movies.
  • happy camper
    i would consider it for Summer and Dec/Jan when all the Oscar nominated films are out.
  • http://twitter.com/BrianRicci Brian Ricci
    That doesn't even seem like a good deal to me.  What if it's a shitty month for movies?  Movies are what?  9 bucks at least.  So you have to see 6 movies a month to get your moneys worth.  Then again, if it's a great month for movies it would be a good deal.  I don't know.  I'm gonna drink some acid now.
  • DD
    I've spent about $176 bucks over the past six months on watching films at theaters, and basically saw all I was interested in seeing. With this it would have cost me $300 dollars...this service really only benefits people who are willing to see over 5 movies a month all of which aren't cheaper matinees, or it is better for film critics who don't see free screenings. Other than that I don't see this being very affordable for the average moviegoer. 
  • Outlaw
    Maybe it's a good deal for San Francisco, but not everywhere, and certainly not all the time.  There has never been a given month where there were 30 DIFFERENT films playing at the theater that I would want to see (let alone the free time to see them), and almost certainly not more than 10 (though perhaps in a really exciting summer season I might get to 10).  I absolutely love movies, but most of the time where I live, movies are ONLY released in 3D whether you want to see them that way or not, and if I'm already paying $50/month, I would want any 3D premium included. If it was cheaper, I might consider it a deal, but not something I'd get all year round.  Same if the price stayed the same but they allowed multiple film viewings per day, repeat viewings, and included premium costs.  But at that point, it becomes unprofitable for the theater, unprofitable for the studios, and certainly unprofitable for whatever company is offering the service. I like the idea of a subscription service for the theater, but there are a LOT of kinks that would need to be worked out to appeal not only to a huge movie fan like me but to a casual movie-going audience, and I just don't think we're there yet.
  • http://www.facebook.com/mcrorey Michael McRorey
    Back in 97, here in Houston, TX, Cinemark/Tinseltown theaters did an unlimited movie pass for $195 for one year.  It was very beneficial to me, but I wasn't happy when it didn't catch on for some reason.  It only lasted that one year and never came back.  I would definitely pay $50 a month for unlimited movies, since I generally see a minimum of 3-4 movies a month at $12-$14 a pop.
  • Staatz
    Be neat if there were some kind of family deal...
  • http://www.moviepulp.be Kennneth
    Actually that's still fairly expensive to European standards. In Belgium I have a moviepass in a big theatre chain for about 25$/month. You do have to pay like 2$ extra for 3D movies, but than I'm not really a fan of this headache-indulging fad  ... .
    • cabo_g
      Yeah Same here ... I have that pass ... 25$ per month and you can see all the movies you want ... this is how we do it in Belgium baby !!! ROC
  • Badacyrille
    HI there!! I'm french and we have an unlimited pass here! For 20 euros you can watch all the movies that you want. 
  • guest
    Being in St.Louis this would be a horrible deal. Movies are like 6 bucks before 6 p.m.. I would have to see over 9 movies to just make the deal worth it and there isnt that many movies worth seeing a month.
  • hansen lau
    i dont see how this is a great deal.  yes some ppl are right, only worth it during summer season.  who watches 5 movies a month in theatres?  there use to be something like this called weekly cinema where for $15/month i got three movie tickets that also rolled over.  best deal ever, but unfotunately it folded.  if they did diff price plans then it could work.
  • http://twitter.com/Internapse Internapse
    AMC has passed on MoviePass and they've put their San Francisco trial run on temporary hiatus. Looks like it's failed before given a chance.
    • Anonymous
      Hopefully something better is in the works. It would be great if it can also be used for indie houses.
  • Chris
    Don't you have some sort of Advertising Standards in the US that can't point out to people the difference between limited and unlimited?
    • Chris
      Ack. *can.
  • http://twitter.com/A5J4DX A5J4DX
    id love this in uk!

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