MoviePass Has Turned AMC Theatres Into A Petulant Child

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: MoviePass's latest terms of service updates are ridiculous.)

It's been three months since MoviePass announced their new subscription model allowing consumers to pay $10 a month for the ability to see a movie in theaters everyday. The company initially wasn't prepared for the onslaught of new customers signing up for MoviePass, which caused significant delays in the shipping of the card to subscribers. On top of that, the customer service provided to both longtime and new customers was dismal, and there were glitches abound for users after the new price point was introduced.

Thankfully, MoviePass has mostly fixed these problems, though they have created some concerns with some recent, vaguely threatening changes to their rules and regulations for subscribers. But MoviePass users still have a problem, and unfortunately, it's the largest movie theater chain in the United States: AMC Theatres.

Remember, AMC Theatres Hates MoviePass

For anyone who hasn't kept up with all the news surrounding MoviePass over the past few months, AMC Theatres adamantly came out against the subscription service as soon as it was announced. The theater chain issued a press released indicating that MoviePass was not welcome at their establishments, albeit without legally being able to stop any customers from using MoviePass at any of their locations. The chain said their legal team was "consulting with its attorneys to determine if or how AMC can prevent a subscription program offered by MoviePass from being used at AMC Theatres in the United States."

Following that press release, it was determined that the only way AMC Theatres could actually stop customers from paying for tickets with MoviePass at any of their US locations was if they stopped accepting MasterCard payments altogether. Since breaking an agreement with MasterCard would cost AMC Theatres a significant amount of money, it seemed like they couldn't do a damn thing about stopping MoviePass. So instead they decided to make it more difficult for some of their customers to use MoviePass.

The first strike from AMC Theatres came when they decided to stop MoviePass users from making E-ticket purchases ahead of time in order to beat the crowd and pick seats in advance. This restriction had only popped up in certain locations, and it actually wasn't that big of a deal since only 5% of locations where MoviePass can be used had E-ticketing available.

Recently, AMC Theatres has been more passive aggressive about their attempts at creating MoviePass restrictions. Since AMC Theatres can't stop customers from paying with MoviePass, instead they're punishing those customers by not allowing them to earn points on their Stubs or Stubs Premiere card for their ticket purchases made with a MoviePass card. It's basically the movie theater chain equivalent of, "Fine, you can play in our sandbox, but you can't use our bucket." Give me a break.

Other AMC Theatres have been more bold (or maybe they've misunderstood how they're supposed to handle MoviePass customers). At least one AMC Theatres location in Illinois stopped customers from buying a ticket with MoviePass altogether, saying that they don't accept the card. I know this because my twentysomething cousin was turned away from this location on several occasions until he eventually decided to go elsewhere. More potentially concerning is this unconfirmed detail from a MoviePass subscriber on Twitter:

But as we said, that kind of action would create some serious problems for AMC Theatres, so take it with a grain of salt for the time being.

Why Is AMC Theatres Acting Like a Petulant Child?

When we called out AMC Theatres for their ridiculously aggressive stance against MoviePass, we wondered why they came out against the service so strongly. As it stands, all theaters who accept MoviePass aren't losing any money. They get paid full price for the movie ticket by MoviePass. There's no discount on the ticket whatsoever, so movie theater chains only benefit from having more customers coming to theater. That customer also has some extra money in their pocket to spend on concessions since they didn't have to pay for their movie ticket. So what's the problem?

In Deadline's recent report on the newly revealed yearly subscription plan that MoviePass is offering for a limited time, they offered up this nugget of information:

"AMC Theatres reportedly shopped around their version of a monthly ticket price plan to the major studios, which Deadline heard was met with a cold response."

And there it is. Now this all makes perfect sense. AMC Theatres wasn't against the idea of MoviePass. Instead, AMC Theatres was upset that MoviePass was able to succeed where they had failed. The reason AMC Theatres couldn't get their own subscription plan to work (something we suggested they should do if they hated MoviePass so much), is because studios were leery about renegotiating how much money they would get from any ticket sales tied to the potential subscription plan. MoviePass doesn't have that problem, because they're paying full price for tickets. So now AMC Theatres is retaliating by making the movie-going experience for MoviePass customers downright inconvenient.

Big - Zoltar Machine

Grow Up, AMC Theatres

Hey, AMC Theatres, maybe instead of pouting because your own subscription service couldn't move forward and punishing the customers who are taking advantage of the free market, why don't you figure out how to make your movie theater experience worth the ticket price?

The reason customers are flocking to MoviePass is because it's cheap. The reason attendance has dropped at movie theaters is because the exorbitant ticket price was not met with an experience worth the money. Whether it's unclean theaters, poor quality screens, unfriendly customer service or the recent decision to stop masking movies, it seems like you're doing everything in your power to keep customers away. So why not embrace the fact that more customers may opt to come back now that they have a MoviePass? Your customers should want to come to an AMC Theatres location and not simply come due to a lack of options.

This is an opportunity for you to impress new customers who had given up on the movie theater experience. MoviePass isn't going anywhere anytime soon because they have plenty of funding to back up the increased cost of paying full price for movie tickets for all their customers. Even with the increased attendance that comes with the holiday season blockbusters like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, MoviePass is fully prepared to keep marching forward. So the ball is in your court, AMC Theatres. Instead of focusing on how to stop MoviePass, maybe figure out how you can take advantage of this situation and prove why you deserve to be the largest movie theater chain in the United States.