Posted on Friday, July 1st, 2016 by Peter Sciretta
MoviePass is a great idea, a monthly membership (starting at $30) that gives you access to see up to one movie a day in one of its 33,000 qualifying screens nationwide. It has basically been marketed as Netflix for movie theaters, and if it worked that simply it would be amazing. Unfortunately, I have found there are many sticking points in using this service. And it seems like MoviePass is finally trying to address some of them.
Right now that $30-$40 membership lets you see one traditional 2D movie once every 24 hours. If you want to see an IMAX or 3D film, MoviePass currently only allows that at select AMC theaters in Boston and Denver. MoviePass otherwise does not include IMAX, 3D, Fathom Events, ETX/RPX, D-Box, Luxury, Prime or any other screening with a premium ticket price.
But MoviePass now plans to experiment with plans as low as $20 a month for access to a smaller collection of movies, as well as a $100 unlimited film pass which would allow you to see all the movies you want in 2D, 3D and IMAX formats. This week, MoviePass will start introducing new services. Users in Los Angeles were told of a new $50 plan which would include six 2D or 3D movies, essentially weeding out all the people who use the membership to their advantage. MoviePass will also be introducing a $99 package for unlimited movies in any format.
The $100 all access pass sounds like a good idea, but it’s very expensive. In Los Angeles it would take about five 3D or IMAX movies to break even on that membership fee, and in smaller markets with lower ticket prices it would take more than that.
As for the $50 membership, it seems to be complicating things by introducing more limits. This is not the right approach for this company. I think what had always appealed to customers was the unlimited aspect, and the limits and restrictions are what turned people like me off of the service.
What limits? Not every theater accepts MoviePass, so selecting a screening can be limited to a few theaters in your area. Not being able to purchase IMAX or 3D tickets is also limiting. Many users hate the 24 hour time limit which means if they see a midnight movie on Friday night they can’t see a new movie on Saturday.
But for me the big sticking point is that in my city of Los Angeles, reserved seating is king. Most theaters in this city sell their good seats early, and having to go to the theater to get a ticket (usually right before or a couple hours before a movie starts) with your MoviePass card can restrict you to bad seats. It also means that you probably won’t be sitting with your friends, which is no fun. MoviePass needs to somehow introduce the ability to purchase tickets online in advance of a screening. Again, I realize this is probably more of a problem for people in major cities like me, but this service seems like something many metropolitan film geeks would subscribe to if it had less restrictions.
While traveling abroad, I’ve noticed that some movie theaters in the UK already have membership plans like MoviePass. These memberships probably work because they are run by the cinemas themselves instead of an external company that pays for each ticket that their members reserve. I think if a company like AMC were to introduce an unlimited movie program, allowing members to see a movie a day in any of its screens (including 3D and IMAX) that could really take off in a way that MoviePass has not.Cool Posts From Around the Web: