Movie Pass: The Cost of a Cheaper Movie Experience

Julia Fechter

The service has attracted over one million subscribers within the past several months. It costs less than Netflix, and it may entice you to start watching more movies.

MoviePass is the subscription-based movie company that offers a monthly plan worth one movie ticket per day, for the price of only one ticket.

The company was founded by a co-founder of Netflix, Mitch Lowe, and it seems to have grown at a more exponential pace than the former (Netflix originally started as a mail-order DVD service).

How to get it

As it has grown, MoviePass has renovated its subscription plans in order to appeal to potential customers. Currently, you can purchase a monthly plan for $9.95 a month from MoviePass. In addition, wholesale stores like Costco have been offering one-year MoviePass subscriptions bundled with a Fandor (a streaming service similar to Netflix) subscription.

If you are interested in MoviePass and want to use it, you must first sign up on the MoviePass website or app. The company will issue you a card if your indicated address is nearby a theater that offers print and e-ticketing options.

Then, when you decide to go see a movie, you may go to your local movie theater and use the app to choose showtime you desire. Once you have done that, you will see the option to check in at the theater.

After doing that, you retrieve your ticket-either by swiping your phone at the theater kiosk or presenting the box office a confirmation code, depending on the theater.

Using MoviePass

Michael Regonald Houston, a junior multimedia film production major and vice president of Georgia Southern University’s film club, talked about his experience thus far with MoviePass.

Regonald Houston first heard about MoviePass in the fall of 2017, in his Introduction to Film Studies class. He explained that, as a whole, he saw 10 movies at a movie theater in 2017.

However, Regonald Houston has managed to watch most of this year’s Oscar-nominated feature films in January, six to be exact. He reasoned that, since purchasing the $60 Costco package, he has already recouped his money if the average price of a ticket is $10 (it’s $8.97 as of Dec. 2017).

“I think that a $60 flat rate transforms cinema from a luxury to something everyone can and should enjoy,” Regonald Houston said.

Additionally, MoviePass does not currently offer subscribers to gift tickets to other people, though Lowe was quoted in Deadline’s Jan. 22, 2018 article “Can MoviePass Impact the Indie Film Biz and Survive in the Long Run?” saying that subsequent versions of the app would include a feature to that effect.

The business model

MoviePass, like Netflix, is a voucher program. It allows someone to buy a subscription that allows them to access one movie a day from month to month.

After customers buy vouchers, MoviePass reimburses theaters for the full costs of the tickets when a MoviePass subscriber uses their voucher.

“I think something like MoviePass was an eventuality, because cinema has needed some sort of innovation. I don’t think anyone thought that anything like Moviepass would come, but they knew that something would happen,” Regonald Houston said.

As MoviePass was growing in popularity, the company wanted to recoup the funds spent from reimbursing theaters. Specifically, Atlantic’s Jan. 29 article “Is MoviePass Here to Stay?” stated that the company wanted AMC, the United States’ largest movie theater chain, to allot them a $3 portion of their ticket sales revenue.

AMC balked at this, so in retaliation, MoviePass blocked its subscribers from getting tickets at the chain’s ten busiest movie theaters. Regonald Houston sees this response as a wrong move by AMC.

“I think MoviePass is good for cinema, because if people go and see movies more often, it’s only good for film,” Regonald Houston said.

He alluded to the trend of declining movie theater attendance over the past decade, pointing out that MoviePass’s push against movie theater costs was needed.

“I think that MoviePass is doing a push that needed to happen. To speak on individual theaters, most of their revenue comes from concessions, so Moviepass doesn’t affect concessions at all,” Regonald Houston said. “As a matter of fact, because of MoviePass, I am able to take the opportunity cost I would be spending for a ticket and put it towards concessions, which is what matters to a theater.”

As well, Deadline and Marketwatch have reported (and Techcrunch and Slashfilm have quoted) that MoviePass also wants a 20 percent cut of AMC’s concessions sales, though no such deal has been accepted by AMC.

“The sheer volume of revenue they’d [AMC] be losing from 20 percent concessions is a compelling argument, but independent theaters seem to be on board with bringing in more theater-goers via MoviePass,” Regonald Houston added.

As AMC is the country’s largest movie theater chain, he thought that the company is more influential than it may seem.

Regonald Houston said, “They [AMC] hold a lot of power in regards to the value a MoviePass subscription actually holds.”