Movies · News

Does MoviePass Deserve a Second Chance?

Maybe this time will be the charm? If not, at least you’ll still get to see a lot of movies.
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By  · Published on January 27th, 2019

Once upon a time, MoviePass was a heavenly subscription-based service that allowed customers to see unlimited theatrical releases for the low price of $10 per month. In legal terms, that’s what you call a freakin’ steal. Like all things that are too good to be true, though, that deal didn’t last long. The company began hemorrhaging money, and the too-good-to-be-true service had to make some unwelcome changes that went down about as well as a smelly fart in a crowded elevator.

First, the company limited the number of times subscribers could see each movie per month. After that, they upped the monthly fee, followed by limiting the amount of movies people could see to a mere three that also had to be chosen from a curated selection. On top of this, parent company Helios and Matheson saw its stock plummet in 2018. Naturally, we all assumed that marked the death knell for MoviePass.

However, through all the drama, MoviePass has managed to survive, albeit by clinging on to life support. This month, though, the company introduced a three-tier subscription plan with the aim of ensuring financial sustainability for years to come. In regions where tickets are cheapest, a monthly deal starts at $9.95. Unfortunately, this option limits customers to three movies per month during their theatrical run. Furthermore, the available movies are restricted to a rotating daily selection. The second-tier, which costs $14.95, is also limited to three flicks per month but offers customers access to any movies at any time. Finally, the most expensive plan costs $19.95 and also allows people to see any three movies of their choosing at any time, including in IMAX and 3D. The prices for all three tiers are higher in cities where cinema tickets are generally more expensive.

Sadly, the halcyon days of lots of movies for $10 are over, but the company wants to bring back an unlimited option for a fixed monthly price. According to Variety, Khalid Itum, the executive vice president, has revealed that plans are currently in motion to reintroduce a new agreement. At the time of writing, however, the price of that plan is unknown. If it’s any consolation, though, Itum claims that the new strategy will allow the service to “stabilize, optimize, and grow.”

Understandably, this news might not be met with overwhelming enthusiasm among the moviegoing community. MoviePass’s reputation has been dragged through the mud since it started bleeding money. Plus, the service’s future is still uncertain. Besides, who’s to say that the company won’t increase subscription prices again should they struggle to turn a profit this time around?

In the past, MoviePass has also encountered conflict with theater chains over how to split the profits. In the past, the company wanted exhibitors to offer ticket discounts and give them a substantial chunk of concessions it helped sell. According to the Variety report, however, this will not be the case moving forward as MoviePass aims to be more “humble” in its collaboration with theater chains. Whether they can maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with the theaters we attend remains to be seen.

That all sounds fine and dandy, but how will Helios and Matheson’s current woes affect these new plans? Itum declined to comment on the company’s problems, but he did reveal that they are looking at spinoff options for MoviePass. Still, judging by Itum’s silence and the fact the parent company has lost hundreds of millions of dollars, we should keep any optimism we may have grounded for the time being.

That said, the big question is whether or not MoviePass deserves a second chance. With services like Sinemia and AMC A-List offering similar discount alternatives and more stability, there are other options out there. MoviePass needs to prove itself before we can feel confident about its survival chances. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still make productive use of its benefits until the end of days.

If the new unlimited plan is affordable and you want to devour as many movies as you can every month, the new unlimited option is worth taking advantage of. MoviePass has been a trainwreck until now, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the pros. Yes, it’s not all doom and gloom. There’s always a silver lining, and something this well-intentioned deserves a chance to succeed.

In addition to the financial savings, the unlimited package will provide an extra incentive to visit the multiplex. This motivates us to see more movies and be better film fans. How many times have you chosen to wait until VOD or missed a movie completely because visiting the theater several times a week is too expensive? Netflix and other streaming services are convenient and spoil us with great content. They also give us plenty of reasons to stay at home and not support new theater releases. At the end of the day, nothing beats seeing a movie on the big screen. Or lots, for that matter. That’s worth bearing in mind as MoviePass tries to appeal to our hearts and wallets once again.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.