There’s something psychologically irresistible about the word “unlimited,” even if we rarely take full advantage of such deals. Until now, that was the premise of Moviepass, the so-called “Netflix for movie theaters”: Sign up for the monthly service for a price of $9.95 and get one ticket to any film every day of the month.
Yes, even the longest months only have 31 days, but that’s as good as unlimited. After April 13, new Moviepass members will find themselves limited to just four films because of a partnership with iHeartRadio. The two services launched a bundled subscription for $29.95, with the caveat that new subscribers’ movie passes would be limited to four during that time period.
That promotion started April 13 and was set to last for three months. But when asked when the unlimited deal would return, Moviepass CEO Mitch Lowe told The Hollywood Reporter, “I don’t know.”
New Moviepass members tend to be the ones most likely to see tons of films — which also tends to eat into company profits. In a deep dive by Wired into how Moviepass makes money, they found that it doesn’t quite yet. But when users see one or two movies a month, the math works out much better for the company than movie fans who take full advantage.
In what many in the industry saw as a power move after comments by AMC Chairman Adam Aron, Moviepass blocked 10 popular AMC movie theaters, including the Times Square location, from its app in January 2018. The theaters were reinstated earlier this month.
The service has signed up more than 1.5 million members since debuting in 2011. But the platform is facing competition from a rival service, Sinemia, which is priced at $9 per month, includes access to 3D and IMAX films (Moviepass only includes 2D films), and allows users to buy tickets from home rather than having to show up at the theater. The catch is that service limits subscribers to just two movies a month.
So is Moviepass still a good deal? A one-month subscription still costs less than a single movie ticket at a New York City theater, so even if you’re an occasional user who doesn’t mind seeing films in 2D, it remains a great deal. But going to a theater more often, even if at first it’s just once or twice a month, should theoretically stoke your appetite for more — this is what indie studios are hoping, and why they’ve been some of the earliest and strongest supporters of Moviepass.
When going to a theater is as easy as sitting down on your sofa, there’s no contest which provides the better movie watching experience. Ultimately, it depends on where you live and how you use the service — and whether the chairs at your local cinema measure up to your sofa.