Is MoviePass the future of cinema?

Remember how much of a pain it is booking cinema tickets? No I don’t either but MoviePass, now headed by former Netflix executive, Mitch Lowe seems to think he has the answer.

To be clear MoviePass’s vision of going to the movies is as follows. You pay them a monthly subscription fee of $9.95 and in return they let you watch any film at virtually any cinema as often as you like. There is however one caveat, you may only watch once a day.

Is Moviepass the future of cinema?

Currently this is only operating in the US and if you think this seems a little too good to be true you may well be right. MoviePass used to cost around $50 but now in an aggressive marketing strategy to presumably grab as may subscribers as possible and strengthen their position have slashed that cost.

The BBC has a full story and video over on their site I would urge you take a look at. In brief this is how the business plan is intended to work.

When a cinemagoer subscribes they are sent a Mastercard debit card. They then choose a film and location to watch it at, MoviePass then finds the price of that film/location and adds the balance to you debit card. From then on you simply pay with the card as normal.

Now if all that seems great value the next question would be, aren’t MoviePass going to be losing money? Well it seems incredibly likely but their end goal is to acquire vast numbers of subscribers and then cut a deal with the big cinema chains for a piece of the popcorn and drinks sales in return for driving people to the cinemas.

The question is why do the big cinema chains need MoviePass? The answer from one of the major players AMC is they don’t. However because MoviePass are using a Mastercard debit card to pay for tickets it’s virtually impossible to block them from adopting this money losing strategy.

Whether enough people will take up this $9.95 a month offer remains to be seen. Although if early reports are anything to go by they may well be on course to reach their 2.5 million subscribers target by next year. They currently have around the 300,000 with an amazing 150,000 coming in the two days following that price drop. That has meant they are struggling to issue cards and already have a 2 to 3 week delay on customers receiving them. The website states “Sign up today and receive your card in 5-7 business days.”

There have also been unconfirmed reports of some existing customers being charged for both the old and new pricing models. There may well be a few teething problems to iron out and these need to be resolved quickly if they are to maintain momentum.

Final Thought on MoviePass

I guess the only way this new way of booking cinema tickets will work for all parties is if the cinema chains actually see more people more often buying those snacks. Will people going more often really have more to spend on popcorn and the like? I’m not so sure this one will be a win for those chains. How long can MoviePass continue to offer this service at the current low price remains to be seen. However it may well be as others have said another Uber in the making.

Let us know what you think because if it does take off you could well see it sweeping the globe.

Don’t forget to check out the BBC article that takes a deeper look into the business model.