Movie Subscription Program Launches New Waitlist

MoviePass is back with a revamped program, available nationwide. Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Movie Passthe once-popular movie subscription plan whose too-good-to-be-true pricing structure drove to its spectacular fallopens a second waiting list for a revamped version of the program.

Why is this important: A new MoviePass could help attract audiences as movie theaters around the country shutter. The box office got off to a strong start to the year, driven by new blockbustersbut the theaters have reeling from the pandemicwhich cratered attendance.

Driving the news: The new waiting list opens at 9 a.m. from Friday to Monday, January 30, and kicks off as the 800,000 people who join the first waiting list in August, access the program.

  • People who join the new waiting list should have access to the program before the summer.

The big picture: MoviePass is no longer the same service it was before its collapse and is slowly rolling out, the company’s CEO, Stacy Spikes, told Axios.

  • “We want to control our growth, not like last time having a crazy train that you can’t handle,” said Spikes, an original co-founder.
  • AMC, Regal and Cinemark – the three biggest chains in the United States – each launched their own subscription offerings following the fall of MoviePass 1.0.

But a lot has changed since 2019. Cineworld, the parent company of movie theater chain Regal Cinemas, filed an application Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September and plans to close 39 cinemas across the country in mid-February.

  • Film distribution has also changed with the explosion of streaming services and many films bypassing theatrical releases.

Rollback: Spikes co-founded MoviePass in 2011, but the company didn’t take off until 2017 when data company Helios and Matheson bought a majority stake and dropped the monthly fee to $10.

  • Spikes said he wanted the price reduction to be a limited offer, knowing that $10 was cheaper than a single ticket in most markets.
  • Spikes described how he was kicked out of the company and the downfall of MoviePass in his book, “Black Founder: The Hidden Power of Being an Outsider.”
  • The company burned through money and couldn’t deliver on its promises. It stopped working for users and stopped in September 2019.
  • Spikes bought the company out of bankruptcy in November 2021. He announced plans for MoviePass 2.0 early last year.
  • In November 2022, Theodore Farnsworth, the former CEO of parent company Helios & Matheson, and Mitchell Lowe, the former CEO of MoviePass, were both indicted by the justice department for securities fraud for allegedly giving “materially false and misleading statements” to investors.

The 2023 list of blockbuster movies, including “Ant-Man: Quantumania”, “Dungeons & Dragons” and “The Marvels,” make it the perfect time to launch, he said.

  • “I’ve never seen a list like this where almost every weekend you have a $100 million movie,” Spikes said. “Not a single one of these titles will be released at the same time. It’s a big commitment from the studios.
  • Spikes believes MoviePass can help rejuvenate theaters and account for 30% of US ticket sales by 2030.

Yes, but: Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter told Axios he doesn’t see MoviePass’ “business model” working.

  • “It’s really Netflix’s business model without any original content,” he said.
  • “They can’t make more money than movie theaters just for box office. And movie theaters have the concessions,” Pachter said.
Relaunch of MoviePass

The new Movie Pass launched in Dallas, Chicago and Kansas City in September, then announced expansion to other cities like Atlanta, Houston, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City and Tampa Bay in early January.

  • Now, MoviePass Beta is available nationwide and covers “100% of the theatrical universe” for those who signed up for the waitlist, Spikes said.
What’s different with MoviePass, prices and credits

New MoviePass customers earn monthly “credits” that can be applied to movie tickets at participating theaters.

How it works: Spikes said there are “variable pricing built into the ecosystem” and credits per movie may vary with a partner theater and a non-partner theater.

  • With partner theaters, users can often purchase tickets through the MoviePass app rather than having to travel to the theater to purchase a ticket with a MoviePass card and your smartphone.
  • “We see ourselves as software for a market similar to how you might think of an Airbnb for the travel and leisure space,” Spikes said.
  • The three largest movie theater chains in the country are currently non-partner theaters, Spikes said.

Details: There are three main pricing tiers and a pro plan available in some markets. The number of credits may depend on the movie, location, day of the week and time of day.

  • The basic plan is $10 per month and gives 34 credits, which is enough to watch one to three movies per month.
  • The standard plan is $20 per month for three to seven movies and 72 monthly credits.
  • The premium plan is $30 per month for five to 11 movies and 113 credits.
  • The pro plan is available in select markets for 30 movies per month and one movie per day for $40 per month.
  • These prices are more expensive in movie markets like New York and Southern California.
MoviePass Waitlist

To access MoviePass, you must join a waiting list or be invited by a friend, the company says.

  • Emails inviting the initial August waitlist to join have started going out and all are expected to go out by next week, officials told Axios.
  • These new MoviePass members will be able to invite 10 friends to MoviePass in the “next two months”.

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