Cinemark's Subscription Program Is A Laughable Attempt To Compete With MoviePass

In the wake of MoviePass's recent disruption of the subscription model for moviegoers, the theater chain Cinemark has introduced a new membership subscription program of its own that's theoretically designed to compete with MoviePass. The problem is, the "perks" you get when subscribing to the Cinemark subscription program are laughable in comparison to what MoviePass offers. Get the details below.

Early today, Cinemark announced the details of their new program:

In case you can't watch the video, here's the breakdown of what you get. For $8.99 per month, members receive one 2D movie ticket (for the entire month), 20% off concessions, and the ability to reserve seats and pay for tickets online beforehand with no fees. TV critic and friend of the site and Myles McNutt tweeted incredulously about this announcement, and pointed out that in his market, evening showings at the Cinemark near him cost $7.15 and matinees are $4.95, so there's not much incentive to sign up for Cinemark's new program. You'd basically be paying for the ability to have 20% off snacks every time you go to the movies, and unless you go a hell of a lot of times per month, an $8.99 monthly fee doesn't make a ton of sense.

Granted, that monthly price point might seem slightly more attractive if you live in a big metropolitan area like New York City or Los Angeles where regular ticket prices are a bit more expensive. But even still, when MoviePass is offering the ability to see one movie per day for a $6.95 (per month) annual subscription, the value is not even in the same ballpark. And when you take into account other major theater chains like AMC and Regal offer their own membership programs for significantly cheaper than Cinemark's, this essentially only makes sense for moviegoers for whom Cinemark is the only practical option for seeing movies theatrically.

The thing that makes me shake my head the most about this is the idea of one of the benefits of this program waiving online fees for reserving seats online. For years, the ability to reserve seats when you buy your tickets online has been free in Los Angeles, to the point where it's shocking if you visit a theater that doesn't offer that ability. The idea that a theater chain is trying to present waiving fees for something that doesn't need to be paid for in the first place as some sort of benefit is insulting. You'd think that in an era in which theater chains are doing whatever they can to get people to increase their number of trips to the movie theater, they'd put more effort into incentivizing people than this flimsy new plan.

Some analysts predict MoviePass may not be sustainable in its current form for very long, but if this is the best Cinemark can do to compete, I don't think MoviePass has anything to worry about any time soon.