One after another, movie fans continue to join Movie Pass.
Subscription company faces some backlash due to their rapid growth. | Photo Illustration by Thecla Li / THE CHIMES
Everyone loves going to the movies. Audiences find themselves allured by the buttery aroma of popcorn as it permeates the air of a movie theatre. The cinema experience has long been a staple of American culture. It belongs to the idealized, romantic version of Hollywood where beloved stars compel moviegoers to temporarily enter a new world.
“I know definitely for me and a lot of the other film majors we love that atmosphere of watching a movie together,” said Adam Deibert, junior cinema and media arts major.
However, that cultural trend has found itself in danger as less and less people are making the trip to the local cinema due to the rise of streaming companies such as Netflix. They can now enjoy thousands of movies without getting up from their couch.
“For a while the conversation has been that the theatre business is dying, because everyone is waiting until it comes out online or they can watch it illegally so they don’t have to pay, because movie tickets are expensive,” said Sophie Butler, sophomore cinema and media arts major.
Movie Pass to the Rescue
Over the past couple of months, however, movie theatres have seen audience numbers increase due to the startling growth of a company called Movie Pass. Movie Pass is most commonly described as Netflix, but for a movie theatre. The idea is simple. Currently, Movie Pass members pay a mere $10 a month for the ability to see one movie in theatres every 24 hours. This sounds like a great deal—and it most definitely is. Once a member starts with Movie Pass, the receive a debit card and can use the accompanying app to pick the ticket they want. Movie Pass transfers the money for the ticket onto the debit card, which members then use to purchase the ticket at the theatre.
Still, there are some minor catches users should know. Movie Pass does not support any enhanced or special screenings, or group purchases, and the ticket must be purchased on-site. Movie Pass is geared towards lone movie fanatics who see multiple movies a month.
While audiences quickly fell in love with Movie Pass, not everyone remains impressed. Some theatre giants such as AMC Theatres have clashed with Movie Pass. In a statement, AMC has claimed the Movie Pass’ current business model is unsustainable.
“From what we can tell, by definition and absent some other form of other compensation, MoviePass will be losing money on every subscriber seeing two movies or more in a month,” AMC said in the statement. “In AMC’s view, that price level is unsustainable and only sets up consumers for ultimate disappointment down the road if or when the product can no longer be fulfilled.”
Much of AMC’s panic comes from Movie Pass’ ability to control price points and audience traffic. The company fears that if Movie Pass goes away, audiences will be more upset by the higher prices the theatres charge for tickets, which could lead to a drop in revenue. Movie Pass can also hurt a theatre that does not partner with it by directing traffic to different theatres. The feud between Movie Pass and AMC has already lead to the company temporarily blocking audiences from using Movie Pass to buy tickets at 10 of AMC’s biggest theatres as AMC looks for a way to prevent the subscription from being used at its theatres.
Needless to say, Movie Pass’ popularity makes theatres uncomfortable. Cinemark, another large national theatre chain, has recently announced their own version of Movie Pass that allows audiences to see one movie a month with discounts on concessions for $8.99 a month.
At the moment, Movie Pass dominates the theatre world, and it continues to grow. However, it remains to be seen just how long this moviegoer’s dream can last, because some speculate that Movie Pass will eventually raise its prices similar to Netflix.