AMC Won’t Take Part in MoviePass [Updated]

If the idea behind MoviePass — essentially a Netflix-like all you can view subscription service for actual movie theaters — sounded too good to be true, you might have been right. We reported yesterday on the company’s plan to offer a $50 monthly subscription pass that, with some restrictions, would allow subscribers to watch as many theatrical releases as they want.

The plan rolls out this week in San Francisco theaters, but for the time being at least, it looks like we can’t expect it to be available in any AMC theater. AMC, one of the nation’s largest theater chains, has issued a press release saying that MoviePass was developed without consulting AMC, and that it consequently does not integrate into AMC’s own programs.

Read the press release from AMC after the break.

Update: Variety just ran a piece saying that all the companies who own theaters on the initial MoviePass list will refuse to honor the subscription.  Landmark, Camera Cinemas and Big Cinemas Towne 3 all say they didn’t have prior communication with MoviePass. Was MoviePass trying to go about building a business in the wrong way, or was it just a strange scam? Regardless, it may now be DOA.

Here’s what AMC issued today, via Deadline:

Kansas City, Mo. (June 30, 2011) – AMC Theatres® (AMC), a leading theatrical exhibition and entertainment company, today announced it will not participate in the beta test of MoviePass, an initiative launching this weekend in the San Francisco area.

“Plans for this program were developed without AMC’s knowledge or input,” said Stephen Colanero, chief marketing officer at AMC Theatres. “As MoviePass is currently designed, it does not integrate well into our programs and could create significant guest experience issues.”

Some concerns with the program include AMC Stubs members’ ability to receive credit when purchasing a MoviePass. AMC Stubs, the company’s rewards program, was rolled out in April 2011 and rewards participants for ticket and concessions purchases.

“As MoviePass was created without AMC’s input and testing, we cannot confidently say the guest experience would be positive for our guests and specifically our AMC Stubs members,” said Colanero. “We were surprised to see the press release and subsequent press coverage of MoviePass earlier this week as it included several of our San Francisco locations. It was news to us to see that we were participants and we will be communicating to those theatres they are not to accept MoviePass.”

This is interesting, because as the release says, several AMC theaters were on the initial list of participating Bay Area theaters. Evidently the head office didn’t know about that, and so that release of the list yesterday seems to have prompted some action.

I’ve been hoping that MoviePass works, and this is definitely a blow to the company’s plan. But it doesn’t have to be the final word in negotiation between AMC and MoviePass; with some back and forth a deal may be able to be worked out. (Remember that movie studios weren’t all quick to jump on board with Netflix, either, and there continues to be negotiation on that front.) Do you think MoviePass has a chance without the day-one participation of the massive chain?

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