MoviePass is a revolutionary change in the way people watch movies. Or maybe it’s “was”? My time with the service began last year because of a simple promise made in its mantra. I bought in because I wanted to see “any movie, any theater, any day” for just $10 a month. I love movies, and the thought of seeing more movies for less of a cost thrilled me. However, this weekend I found myself cancelling my subscription, the days of its thrilling excitement long gone.
Typically, we discuss movies directly here at MovieBabble, however; today I am going to walk you through my joy turned frustration with MoviePass. In addition, I will also be discussing how it has changed the movie going game. I have written, deleted, and rewritten this article three times now, straining to find the proper format to address the service. It started as an in-depth analysis turn venting session. Then it became a comparison of MoviePass to The Dark Knight villain Harvey Dent/Two-Face. Now it is a revised analysis based on the chain of events I’ve seen with the service, complete with a fresh supply of GIFs. Enjoy.
“MoviePass is the greatest service known to man. There’s no way it can be true. I’m going to be able to see all of the movies (for free). The price of a single ticket per month could in theory pay for 30-31 movies. There’s no way I’d ever see 31 films a month, but I could if I wanted to.”
Those are the thoughts that ran through my head when I first heard about and signed up for MoviePass. What a time those first few months were.
For the first few months, I barely used MoviePass enough to break even. Between classes, work, and whatever else the life of a college student had to throw at me, I wasn’t taking full advantage of the service. I managed to see more smaller films, such as Thoroughbreds. However, there aren’t nearly as many “must see” releases for me during the late winter/ early spring season. I managed to see Black Panther twice, but still I wasn’t entirely living up to the “unlimited” promise of the service.
The Weekly Experience
In April of this year, my extracurricular activities ended and I found myself with much more free time. I decided that this free time was used best for making the most out of my MoviePass subscription. But, still dealing with classes, theater going became more of a once a week affair than it did an “unlimited” one. Still, by using MoviePass, I was able to make a $40 habit a $10 habit by only having to pay per month instead of per ticket.
“Destiny Still Arrives”
Are you familiar with Avengers: Infinity War? In case you aren’t, I’ll just let you know that it is one of the top five highest grossing movies of all time. That being said, I very much wanted to see it, and I very much wanted to see it in theaters more than once. Then I had an epiphany, I could see it as many times as I wanted because I had MoviePass. It’s even in their slogan. As the summer blockbuster season started, I was excited at the prospect of watching Thanos punch my favorite heroes as often as I wanted.
Destiny Punches You in the Face Upon Arrival
“Psych!”, said MoviePass. The idea of Unlimited was shot down as the “any movie” aspect of their slogan became a lie. Sure, you could see “unlimited” movies in the sense that you could see any movie. However, this change came with the stipulation that you could only see each movie once. I understand why the company made this decision, but they made it entirely the wrong way. The company opted not to announce the change, implement it, and then deal with any blowback. Instead, they decide to implement the change, announce it, and then ignore most of the blowback. This probably wouldn’t have been more than a foul if the changes to the service stopped there. However, the changes didn’t stop, and so this is strike one.
“Exciting” New Features
I firmly believe that most films should be seen at least twice before anyone can completely analyze them. Yes, you can review and have excellent opinions over a film after the first viewing, but the whole picture takes a second trip to the cinema to formulate. So, I wasn’t too thrilled about MoviePass announcing the change. However, there aren’t many movies that I want to sit through twice during their theatrical run, so I stuck with the program. Then, the company announced some “exciting” new features.
First, they announced a new peak-pricing plan. If a film is busy, then you may have to pay a few extra dollars to use MoviePass for it. I get the idea behind this, and I can even get on board with that idea. However, the implementation of such idea was a train wreck, as will be discussed later on. Second, they announced an option to purchase additional tickets in app for friends and guests. Again, another decent idea that improved going to the theater with more than just yourself. They also announced an upgrade feature for IMAX and 3D or premium showings. You would be able to use MoviePass to cover the cost of a regular ticket, and then pay the difference for your IMAX showing. As a big fan of IMAX, this feature excited me the most.
The Ant-Man and the Wasp Dilemma
Pictured Above: MoviePass customer service responding to its concerned customers.
MoviePass began rolling out these new features with an update the day that Ant-Man and the Wasp hit theaters. This “update” conveniently crashed the app for most customers and prevented use of the service for most of the opening Thursday and Friday of its release. When the dust settled and the app came back online, only one of the announced features was up and running. Peak-pricing was MoviePass’ second strike for me. Again, I get why they moved to that model. However, they also promised other features beneficial to users and failed to deliver on them while delivering solely on what raked in more money for the company. Still, an extra $2-$6 dollars for a busy movie beats paying $10 for it.
The Mission: Impossible – Fallout Blackout
MoviePass ran out of liquid cash on the Thursday of Mission: Impossible – Fallout‘s release. This means that they couldn’t pay the theaters for their customer’s ticket purchases. The service went down completely as a result, and stayed down for most of the day. The company was able to get a loan and boot the service back up, but with a few caveats for its customers.
First of all, new releases were blocked out from the service. That meant that MoviePass subscribers couldn’t view popular new films such as Mission: Impossible – Fallout until a later, unknown date. Second, literally every showing for almost every movie was suddenly peak priced at roughly $6-$8 a pop, regardless of its popularity. This meant that the company could profit off of blatant lies. Because, no matter how well you spin it, you’re not fooling anyone by claiming that a domestic flop such as Skyscraper is busy in its third and fourth weeks at the box office. Third, despite claiming peak-pricing for nearly all that it had to offer, the service began to not list every showtime that each theater listed. It would fail to acknowledge some movies entirely, while only supporting odd showtimes for others. This was strike three for me.
Goodbye, Old Friend
Three strikes and MoviePass was out. Last weekend I switched to AMC Stubs A-List. The service is closer to what MoviePass was when I started using it than MoviePass is currently. For $20 a month, I can see up to 3 movies a week if I wanted to. I like the freedom to see a greater number of movies on a budget. I will take whatever options I have, and choose the one I think is best. This is currently AMC, but I’m not hear to talk about AMC, MoviePass is still in the hot seat. Why are people, myself included, frustrated with MoviePass?
Altering the Deal
Under the new business model announced recently, the company claimed that “the fact is that a small number have used our business model to a point where it was compromising the business’ long-term stability.” Basically, the company is complaining because people used the service as it was advertised. The company offered “Unlimited. Any movie, any theater, any day” and then became upset when people cashed in on that promise. The fact of the matter is that MoviePass can’t succeed unless it cuts deals with theaters or sells enough user data to pay for their movie-going habits. That’s not a bad thing, but it just appears to be a concept that the company can’t wrap its head around.
So, instead of finding ways to offset costs with theaters or adapt the service while still thinking of its users, the company decided to alter the terms and conditions on a whim several times over. The company angers so many of its customers because of these whims and the apparent lack of transparency that accompanies them. Nobody likes being promised one thing and delivered another. I bought in because I liked the promise of “unlimited”. I cancelled because that promise has been redacted and revised several times over. My subscription cost doubled from $10 to $20 for AMC, but I gladly accept that higher price because their program comes with the transparency that MoviePass lacks. I understand what I am paying for, and that service is delivered to me in full.
Before Zeus Came Atlas
Sometimes, something bad has to happen before something better can take its place. Look at the classic Greek myths for example. The Titans came, they were awful, but they gave birth to the gods. The gods weren’t perfect, but they made the world a much better place in the wake of the Titan’s demise. In this case, MoviePass is the Titan King, Atlas, and whatever subscription services come in the wake of its demise are the gods. MoviePass’s original idea is great. However, that idea has been lost in a sea of mistakes. As the company flounders, new and existing companies are coming to lure customers away with more reliable programs of their own.
Despite MoviePass’ failures, I am glad that they changed the way the game is played. People have gotten used to the idea of subscription based movie-going, and that idea will not easily be put back in the box. The large domestic theater chains have already begun to develop and implement their own subscription plans, and I look forward to the diversity of choice that that competition will bring.
Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on MoviePass? Comment down below!
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