MoviePass, Your Favorite Unsustainable Movie Company, Is Relaunching This Summer

Here's a few words you never thought you'd see again: MoviePass is alive. That's right, folks. Your favorite unsustainable movie company has revealed that they plan to relaunch this summer after a spectacular crash-and-burn in 2019 that was akin to a beautiful car wreck.

Today, CEO Stacy Spikes unveiled the relaunch plans during a press conference akin to an Apple event. During the event, he explained the changes that will be implemented in the new version of the project, including a credits system that would allow users to use credits to purchase movie tickets for both themselves and a guest. Those credits will roll over month to month if they don't get used.

"People didn't see MoviePass as a discount, they saw it as a discovery tool," Spikes said at the press conference, implying that MoviePass was seen as a curator of film charcuterie instead of what it really was: a purveyor of dirt-cheap movie access.

Additionally, Spikes introduced an initiative for users where you can watch ads to earn free credits to use toward movie tickets. Your phone camera will literally track your eyeballs to make sure you watch the complete ad — and if you look away, the ad will pause. "What it does is it basically creates a transaction between you and the brand," Spikes explained. So, it's basically a "Black Mirror" episode. Got it.

Finally, the CEO also revealed that a portion of the new company is available for investment to anyone who would be interested, and the monetary commitment would come with a lifetime membership to MoviePass. He noted that he wanted the MoviePass 2.0 initiative to be "built by its fanbase," but did not specify how interested parties could get involved.

As for us movie-loving plebs, there's no word yet on how much MoviePass will cost — and I'm expecting it to be a pretty penny, or at least a step up from the $10 price tag that put the business into a garbage can and kicked it down a steep hill to bankruptcy. It seems we will soon know if it's worth tapping back in, but based on the creepy ad eyeball tracking alone, I'm skeptical.

The Little Engine That Could (Get You Into a Movie a Day For Free)

Spikes founded MoviePass in 2011 alongside Hamet Watt. The service allowed moviegoers to see a set number of movies per month in theaters for one monthly price, which fluctuated depending on your location. For example, major cities were more expensive, as their ticket prices tend to be higher.

In 2017, the company was bought by Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY) after years of just scraping by. HMNY CEO Ted Farnsworth and new MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe helped the company launch a $10-a-month subscription price that included one movie per user per day. Subscriptions rose from 20,000 to about 100,000, and in less than a year, MoviePass had over 3 million subscribers. You probably had a subscription yourself. I totally did.

As history showed, that model wasn't sustainable — the company was basically hemorrhaging money. They fired Spikes in 2018, and he claims he raised concerns about the price point before he was dismissed. Both MoviePass and HMNY filed for bankruptcy in 2020. MoviePass was under investigations by the FTC, SEC, four California district attorneys, and the New York attorney general at the time of its filing.

In June 2021, Farnsworth and Lowe reached a $400,000 settlement with the California district attorney's office, as well as an undisclosed settlement with the FTC. In November 2021, Spikes' bid to buy back the company was approved by a Southern District of New York bankruptcy court. And now, I guess we're about to welcome the Enron of movies back to the stage. Just proceed at your own risk, folks. We've seen this film before.