MoviePass! What is it? How does it work? Not all that well, apparently, at least from a business standpoint. Their homepage is a big red wall that promises “Unlimited. Any Theater. Any Movie. Any Day. Only $9.95 a Month.” That may be well and true for now, but a new report from Business Insider says that the service will soon introduce up-charges for “high demand”, popular movies.
CEO Mitch Lowe‘s “high demand” pricing is an added charge that starts at $2 for pictures the company deems popular (by what metrics, we don’t know). That means that opening weekend or popular moviegoing times for certain titles will likely see an up-charge. The change is coming this July. The move was done in part to “make sure that [MoviePass] can continue to offer a valuable service and support the whole enterprise,” as well as acting as a way to encourage subscribers to see blockbuster films at off-peak times after opening weekend, a trend that theater-owners would also like to see.
Other changes are also on the way: By August, MoviePass subscribers will also be able to add a friend when buying tickets through the app, along with options for IMAX and RealD 3D movies, for an added price. For the friend without MoviePass, their ticket will be “somewhere near the retail price of the ticket,” said Lowe. Hopefully that means retail price in that particular area at that particular time, because the price of a movie ticket on a Tuesday afternoon in Decatur, GA is quite different from that of one in LA or NYC on Friday night. And that price for different formats, like IMAX and RealD 3D? Anywhere from $2 to $6. Fun fact: You’ll have to choose between these new options–one or the other, the added friend or the ability to choose something other than traditional 2D–until they’re both available in the app by the end of August, as the plan goes. Subscribers who have the annual plan won’t be subject to the high-demand charge and can also opt out of the other new features.
So, come August, a MoviePass owner who wants to bring a friend to an IMAX flick on opening weekend could pay up to $8 in fees plus the price of their pal’s ticket, at retail. This is on top of the $9.95 a month. Do that often enough–or don’t see movies often enough at all–and the whole thing becomes costlier than it’s worth. Still, MoviePass is a viable option for savvy moviegoers who know when and where they’ll be seeing certain films. However, the model might not be sustainable for the company itself. Another Business Insider article reports that their monthly losses climbed to $40 million this past May due to a rapid influx of new subscribers; this month should see a $45 million deficit if estimates prove out. The addition of more than 500,000 new subscribers (totaling over 3 million since about a year ago) have led the company’s owner to estimate a possible $1.2 billion or more in capital to keep the thing afloat.
Then there’s the fact that AMC has its own MoviePass killer in AMC Stubs A-List, a subscription model offshoot of its customer rewards program. This will run you $19.95 a month and allow you to see three movies a week at AMC theaters. They also include “premium formats such as IMAX, Dolby Cinema, and RealD”, which is why MoviePass is likely scrambling to add that functionality to their program.
Are you a member of the MoviePass faithful? Are you excited to see AMC’s own plan? Let us know in the comments!