MoviePass Aims To Be The Cinema Answer To Subscription Models


Netflix co-founder Mitch Lowe knows his movies. From co-founding Netflix to being president of Redbox, Lowe has experience with rentals and subscriptions. Now, with MoviePass, he aims to get more butts into those theater seats.

MoviePass works like Netflix, or maybe more relatable, a gym membership. You pay roughly $10 a month and get to go to one showing every single day at any theater that accepts debit cards. MoviePass would pay the full price of each ticket to the theater (minus 3D, which is trash anyway, and IMAX tickets). An interesting proposition, and one that I can imagine tons of people would hop on board with.

But, you may be thinking what I did when I first read this. How would anyone make money off of that? An average ticket in the US is around $9 for one showing. If every subscriber just goes to two movies a month, MoviePass is hemorrhaging money. So, what’s the deal?

For starters, MoviePass used to cost more. Roughly around $30 per month, which is still a phenomenal deal if you go to three movies a month. It’s not crazy. But, to become more mainstream, they plan on dropping that price to the aforementioned $10 per month. Next, they sold a majority stake to Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc. Helios is a small data firm in NY. Stop me if you know where this is going.

Nope? Ok. So, here’s their plan on making money, other than hoping people only go to one movie and don’t use their pass. The idea is that they will collect data from their customers and grow an understanding of their viewing habits. Turn that data into insights and voila, you can target ads to subscribers.

This quote from Ted Farnsworth, CEO at Helios, appeared in the Bloomberg article about MoviePass:

“It’s no different than Facebook or Google,” Farnsworth said. “The more we understand our fans, the more we can target them.”

Fair enough. You can’t argue with their thinking. I still am struggling to see if it will work. It seems like a good way to spend a lot of money and make a whole lot of no money. I also don’t have faith in people. People are weird. They think just because a company tracks how you use their product, you are being severely infringed upon. Which is, frankly, stupid as hell. But, sometimes people misunderstand all of this.

For me personally, I want a MoviePass immediately. I go to more movies than your average person and when I used to live at home I would probably see a movie a week. Now it’s much less, but I still see way more. And having a MoviePass would mean I would probably go see those smaller movies, that sit on the fringe of my interest because I think I should wait til it drops on demand.

The average person would be smart to get one if it’s $10/month. You see one movie and it’s paid for itself. You get a little interested when Dunkirk, Baby Driver, Spiderman, Big Sick, Girls Trip (I mean, have you seen that Rotten Tomatoes score?!) and Planet of the Apes are all in the theater at the same time and look at that, you can go see two for the price of one or ALL OF THEM for the price of one.

I think people are ridiculous for acting like a movie ticket is breaking the bank. Buy 2-3 less beers at the bar, or sneak in candy instead of buying the overpriced stuff at the theater (@ the feds, I swear I don’t do this). And when you go see a 3D 4K Dolby Ultrasound IMAX bullshit, it’s going to cost a ton. So, maybe just see it on something that isn’t so extensive. Plus, yeah, concessions are overpriced but, you literally don’t have to buy them.  Either way, now, you average complaining person don’t have to worry about that. Congratulations.

One final thought: this is a genius idea if it works. It helps theaters, consumers, AND the people that make movies. When more people see original movies, or small indies, or literally anything that makes at least a dent over its budget, studios notice. When that happens, we get more movies. Not just Avengers 7: Battle For Who Gets The Next Solo Movie, but stuff like Baby Driver or The Big Sick. Hell, romcoms might even be able to make a return entirely. Studios will still be unoriginal and shoot after that IP, but they also will be open to funding smaller ideas. Things that don’t need a 10 year plan with a Universe as its overarching name, but rather just a production schedule and release.

Being able to see all the movies I want is exciting, but knowing that we’ll get better, more diverse, more original movies is even more exciting. Let’s hope it works out.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here