When someone told me I could see several movies a month at nearly any movie theater in the country for just $9.95 a month, my first instinct was, what's the catch — this deal sounds way too good to be true.
After looking into how MoviePass works, I'm now wondering: why would anyone not sign up for this service?
What Is MoviePass?
MoviePass is a subscription service that allows you to see any 2D movie at nearly any theater, for $9.95 a month. You could technically watch up to 31 movies a month, but there is a limit to one movie per day. In addition, there is no ongoing commitment required.
MoviePass' network coverage is impressive, allowing you to watch a movie at over 91% of movie theaters in the country.
Why Haven't I Heard Of MoviePass Before?
MoviePass has actually been around since 2011, but it's gone through several different price and service changes. At times, MoviePass limited the number of movies you could see in a month to two or three and historically, the service was as much as $50 a month.
In August 2007, a majority stake in the company was sold to Helios and Matheson, an analytics company. At the same time, the company introduced its current pricing structure, allowing subscribers to watch up to one movie a day for just $9.95 a month.
As a result of these changes, MoviePass increased its subscriber base from just 20,000 at the end of 2016 to 1.5 million by January 2018.
What's The Catch — How Can They Afford To Do This?
There really isn't a catch. Right now, MoviePass doesn't have partnerships with most theaters, so they aren't getting discounted rates that they're able to pass on to subscribers.
Instead, each time a subscriber sees a movie, MoviePass pays the theater the full cost of the ticket. In many areas of the country, this could amount to $8 to $10 per movie, while in larger cities, like New York City, MoviePass is paying over $17 per ticket to theaters.
This means, MoviePass is generally losing money on subscribers that see more than one movie a month and in larger cities, they lose money if a subscriber sees just one movie a month. While subscribers will vary in their utilization of the service, MoviePass says their average customer saw three to six movies a year before subscribing and that increased to six to 12 movies a year after becoming a member.
MoviePass is focused on the long-term though and they believe they will be able to strike partnerships and deals with theaters in the future and potentially unlock other revenue streams, such as advertising and marketing revenue.
How Does The Service Actually Work?
To become a subscriber, sign up on the website. Once registered, your MoviePass card, which is needed to pay for movies, should arrive within 10 business days. Once you have your card, download the app, and you're off to the races!
When you're ready to see a movie, you'll do the following:
- Go to the movie theater of your choice.
- Use your app to check in and choose your movie. MoviePass will load your debit card with the full cost of the ticket.
- Go to the regular ticket line and pay for your ticket with your MoviePass card.
Are There Any Limitations To Know About?
Beyond being able to see one movie a day, there are some other limitations to be aware of:
- Must Be Onsite: For the most part, you have to be within 100 yards of the theater to be able to check in and choose your movie. That eliminates the possibility of buying tickets in advance before actually getting to the theater.
- No 3D Or iMax Movies: MoviePass does not apply to special movie formats, so you'd still have to pay regular price for these.
- Can't Buy Tickets For Multiple People: Since you are only able to buy your own ticket via MoviePass, it may be tough to coordinate seating with a large group for popular show times.
MoviePass is a movie subscription service that costs just $9.95 a month and allows you to watch up to 31 movies monthly. MoviePass can be used at over 91% of theaters in the United States, so chances are, you can use the service at your local movie theater. In addition, there's no ongoing commitment, so you can cancel anytime (though if you cancel your membership, you won't be able to rejoin MoviePass for nine months).
While trying to book or coordinate with large groups could be a little difficult, as long as you see one or two movies a month, there's no reason not to subscribe to MoviePass.
If you're looking to save on the price of concessions, an AARP membership can help you save $3 on any popcorn and soft drink combo at Regal Entertainment Group theaters. For those looking to "pre-game" on food and drinks before the movie to avoid the high cost of refreshments at the theater, you may find the app RunPee helpful — it points out good times during a movie to take a bathroom break.