by Alex Chiles, who you can find building a shrine for his MoviePass on Twitter @axchiles
One Sentence Review: MoviePass is a gift from the cinematic gods and we should begin daily sacrifices immediately to ensure they don’t take it away from us.
Full review: First of all, let me briefly explain what MoviePass is. It’s a monthly subscription service ($10 currently) that allows customers to go to 1 non-3D movie per day in a theatre. A good way to think of it is “Netflix but for movie theaters”. How does it work? Well, they send you a debit card in the mail (your “MoviePass”) and you download their app on your phone. Once you arrive at the theater, you launch the app and select your movie. Magically, money is loaded on to your card. You go up to the box office and order your ticket just like you would anyway, and then pay with your MoviePass card. That’s it!
About two weeks ago, my MoviePass arrived in the mail after an understandable but agonizing waiting period. So many trips to the mailbox, so much disappointment. However, I have to say after using it three times (even once at an AMC where I got a kick out of paying with a service they are currently suing), that’s the only disappointment I’ve experienced thus far. The app hasn’t crashed on me as I feared it might, the “check-in” process once you arrive at your theater is seamless (done this now in two different states with zero hiccups), and I haven’t run into any restrictions of any sort (except no IMAX 3D of course).
As much as I’m enjoying this, it has a “too good to be true” quality to it. The $10/month price point certainly piqued some interest (the wait for my card to arrive is evidence of that alone) in more ways than one. It begs the question: why the hell are they doing this? Let me run down a few theories as to what MoviePass may be up to here. It’s purely speculation, but may be fun. Let us begin!
1. MoviePass hopes you sign up and don’t use it.
This theory is the most intuitive, as a lot of subscription type services aim for this. They want you to sign up and almost forget you have it, so an automatic payment continues to be made without you really using it much.
Likelihood this is true? 75%. I don’t think this is the primary motive here, but I think it is definitely something they are counting on to make sure the company isn’t losing TOO much money.
2. MoviePass wants to pull a bait and switch after you’re hooked.
As I have detailed above, this is a legitimately good service. I’m clearly already hooked. I already took a break while writing this to check movie times for this very afternoon. If MoviePass gets enough junkies, they could slowly raise the price and I would continue to pay because hot damn, it will continue to be a good deal for a long time.
Likelihood this is true? 50%. I think this might be the case, but I think they are looking to build a large, loyal base. Price changes threaten that loyalty, so I think they will be careful with this one. If it happens, I think it will be by a small amount and not for a year or so.
3. MoviePass wants leverage.
This is by far the most cynical theory here, but let me walk you through how it would work: MoviePass drops the price to entice people to sign up. They do. In droves. They love it. Before you know it, they have a huge, loyal MoviePass customer base that never has to pay more movies beyond the subscription price. Then, MoviePass execs (with 37 lawyers in tow), sit across from bigwigs from a big theater chain like AMC in a fancy meeting room. The meeting would go exactly like this:
MoviePass: “Yo, if you don’t cut us in on your profits, we’ll drop your theatres from our service and our customers will go somewhere else!”
AMC: “Awwwwwww, shit!”
Likelihood this is true? 45%. AMC is definitely worried about this theory (they are currently pre-emptively suing MoviePass to try to prevent it), but part of me thinks this plan is a little too evil and also a bit far-fetched, because it really is banking on a super loyal customer base that may not come to fruition.
4. MoviePass wants your data.
The majority shareholder of MoviePass is HMNY (google it if you want the full company name, my typing fingers are tired), which specializes in analytics. They could use MoviePass to collect all kinds of data (example: how many 18-25 year olds go to horror movies at 8pm on Fridays?) that they could sell to advertising firms.
Likelihood this is true? 80%. The timing of HMNY becoming majority shareholder and this new price point *probably* isn’t just a coincidence.
5. MoviePass is the cinematic gods’ reward for human goodness and if we take it for granted it shall be abruptly taken from our lives, leaving us lying on the street in tears wondering where it all went wrong.
Likelihood this is true? 1000%.
Should you use this service? If you can stomach the wait time for your card to arrive, aren’t a die-hard 3D person, and see more than 1 movie a month, this service is a no-brainer at its current price point.
Where? Sign up on http://www.moviepass.com or download the MoviePass app and sign up from there. I signed up the first day of the new price point and the website was crashing repeatedly, so I had better luck signing up through the app.
Wondering what movies I saw? Can’t contain your excitement about getting my thoughts on these mystery movies? Reviews coming soon…