Studios and Exhibitors Rail Against MoviePass [UPDATED]

by     Posted 3 years, 173 days ago


Yesterday, it was reported that the New York-based MoviePass would be launching a Netflix-style subscription service that allowed consumers to pay $50/month to see unlimited movies in the theater.  The beta test began this week in over 20 theaters in the San Francisco Bay Area.  MoviePass plans expand into more cities this August and nationwide by the fall.  When you consider that the average ticket price has climbed to above $10 and that a movie-lover is probably paying at least $50 a month to go to the theater, it’s a great deal.

So of course studios and exhibitors are unhappy with it.  TheWrap reports that their unhappiness stems from A) how it breaks from the traditional price model (i.e. ripping you off) and B) they weren’t informed because MoviePass made its deal with online ticketing services.  Hit the jump for more.

Landmark Theaters is already taking measures to see if they can prevent MoviePass from offering tickets to its theaters and another major exhibitor is on the verge of announcing that they will not honor MoviePass vouchers.

[Update: AMC Theaters have sent out a press release saying they will not honor MoviePass vouchers.  The press release states MoviePass "does not integrate well into our programs and could create significant guest experience issues."  Read: "It could screw up our new AMC Stubs program."  While I know this site talked up AMC Stubs as part of Steve's participation in the promotional contest for the new program, from a ticket-purchasing perspective, it's a far weaker deal than MoviePass.  AMC Stubs will give you a $10 rewards card if you spend $100 at AMC Theaters.  AMC Stubs provides some bonuses for concession purchases, but as someone who goes to the movies for the movies and not the food, I would choose MoviePass over AMC Stubs every day of the week and twice on Sunday.]

moviepass-image-01It’s an incredibly stupid move on the part of these theater chains since the majority of their profits don’t come from ticket sales but from concessions.  If someone keeps coming to your theater, chances are they’re going to buy the overpriced snacks.  Furthermore, with premium VOD services aiming to keep consumers at home, exhibitors should be championing anything that gets those consumers back to the theater.

Distributors have a slightly better case for being upset.  MoviePass could make it difficult to calculate grosses, but MoviePass responds that studios will benefit by acquiring more tracking data and information about its consumers.  While that aspect is a little unsettling, letting a studio know that I’m seeing their movie doesn’t feel like an unacceptable invasion of piracy.

Based on what I know about MoviePass, I’m in favor of the service and it seems like the biggest problem distributors and exhibitors are having with it is that it wasn’t their idea and they don’t know how it will affect their business.  My argument would be that rather than sound the alarm, see how it plays out rather than shutting down a service that could benefit exhibitors, distributors, and most importantly, consumers.

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  • colin

    Sounds like a great idea. I won’t be signing up since I never see more than 5 movies a month at the rate these studios turn out garbage cash ins. If the service cost 29.99 I would be in though.

  • Mace Moneta

    Translation: “Stop trying to prevent us from putting the last nail in our business model’s coffin.”

    I stopped going to movie theaters about 10 years ago. The only exception was two years ago, when some friends convinced my to see Star Trek “on the big screen”. It was a small screen, the theater was filthy, and I missed about 10% of the movie due to people talking, taking/making cell calls.

    Thanks, but no thanks. Movies are advertised at least a year before they open – I just add 6 months and get it for free on DVD from my library.

    • Bill Graham

      I’m truly curious why you are even on a film blog… You don’t see films in theaters (not a biggie), but then point out that you don’t even support the films you do see on DVD? You rent them for free from the library?

      Surely you buy a film here and there? Spend SOME sort of money that should partially end up as profit for a studio/staff/cast/crew…

  • Jon

    There is a cinema subscription service by the UK cinema chain Cineworld which is £14.99 a month to see as many films as you want although you have to pay a small fee for 3D films but it’s great if you see films a lot.

    I think MoviePass is a win win for cinema chains as they would get regular income per month plus more money from concessions.

  • modea

    The last time I went to the cinema was to see Inception. I’m pure VOD these days. Fuck the cinema experience.

  • Trick!
    Many, many times I think to myself (concerning most theatrical releases lately), “That looks interesting, but I wouldnt pay to see it..” With this pass? I’d go watch EVERYTHING! I hope this reeeeally takes off

  • H20

    Who spends more than $50 on tickets for themselves in a month outside of the summer? Even at say $15 a ticket, do people really see an average of more than 3 movies at the theater in a month? At $15 a ticket that’s more than 40 movies you have to watch in the theater over the course of a year just to make it worth while. Any cheaper and you’d have to watch even more.

  • Jesus

    I might never leave a movie theater if this becomes widespread.

  • Nope

    So, I know it’s really popular to hate on the prices of movies, but how many other forms of high-quality entertainment only costs $10.00 a person (at my theater it is only $8.50)? I can’t really think of many. I’d compare going to the movies to going to a sporting event. Both cost the creators (the film company/the sports franchise) tons of money to put on, but the difference is it costs MUCH more than $10 for ANY seat, particularly a good one. In fact, thinking about this, I’m flat out annoyed that people would ACTUALLY COMPLAIN about movie prices.

    On the other hand, this is a cool idea, but I don’t think the big companies (AMC, Regal, and Cinemark) will go for it.

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