Moviepass: An Update.

As you may or may not know, I am an early adopter of the lower-priced Moviepass subscription product released in 2017 (Moviepass itself has been around for years, though not at the $9.95/month price point which is what got everyone in a mild tizzy). For the uninitiated, this is one of the great subscription services of our time, perhaps the greatest — an earth-shattering seismic event smashing and rippling through an otherwise tranquil landscape. If you are unfamiliar with the product, it is a monthly subscription service that allows one to view a movie free of charge at participating theaters every single day. It has now been over half a year since I initially signed up, and I wanted to give you an update as to where I stand, perhaps as a guide for those interested in possibly joining the service.

I can safely say that I have made good use of Moviepass. A cursory evaluation of my watch history mixed with a little mathematics reveals that I am averaging about 5 movies per month over the course of 8 months. That is a lot of film. I certainly have never watched anywhere near that amount of movies in theaters prior to doing so via the Moviepass. While they continue to change the pricing structure seemingly week to week for new subscribers, I am locked in at an $89/year price structure for at least one year, so roughly $7.50 per month. Looking at that calculation versus the average cost of a ticket, one would assume that I was making out like a bandit, which I am. Friends of mine who also have the service seem to use it to varying degrees of frequency — due to my somewhat freeform daily schedule I am able to take fuller advantage than most — but it would seem that the people within my sphere are at least getting 2-3 movies a month out of it on average.

There are also articles suggesting that Moviepass could be in trouble due to ’power users’ (I don’t know if I fall into that category but I’m assuming there are people out there that use it almost daily) draining their coffers. As it stands, Moviepass shells out the ENTIRE cost of the ticket every time someone swipes the provided debit card, so they would be taking a massive loss if every one of their 2 Million+ users were to go even twice in a month. I would reckon that they are furiously attempting to cut deals with theaters at this very moment for volume ticket discounts, commissions from food/drink concessions, or some amalgamation of different techniques to lower their overhead.

When it comes to the model itself, I think the Moviepass heads initially looked at it like a gym membership — everyone gleefully signs up, excited to swim in the spoils of heavily-discounted film, but then inevitably forgets about it and usage drops off, thus netting the company a hefty profit in unrealized memberships. However, I’ve had my share of gym memberships in the past (always with poor usage), and the crucial difference here is that It think on the whole there is a natural resistance to wanting to work out — we’ll think of any excuse not to go — I mean it has the word WORK in it. Watching a movie involves sitting in a cushy seat supporting your likely-ample buttocks, throwing back a bucket of popcorn and/or pack of Twizzlers while watching your favorite stars prance about the silver screen. Doesn’t seem like a huge ask to me.

And of course, with all great things, there comes a great reckoning. When I signed up, the deal seemed so good I couldn’t imagine it sustaining itself for long at its current value offering. Since that time, the service has changed in what is I am assuming scrambled attempts to save cash. Within the last few months pricing has fluctuated wildly, from a yearly up-front charge, back to $9.95/month, then to an option that limited the user to 4 movie viewings per month with a free 3-month subscription to iHeartRadio (really??), and as of now back to the original $9.95/month service. Additionally, Moviepass now requires users to upload images of their ticket stubs, and to my great dismay, is disallowing multiple viewings of the same film (dashing my plans to see Avengers: Infinity War at least twice). And yet, despite these additions, addendums, and minor annoyances, the deal is STILL amazing. 

So, should you sign up for Moviepass? If you have the discretionary time, I’d say absolutely. If you go to the theaters anywhere between 1-2 times per month on average, its worth it, and will likely get you to watch more, only increasing the value. If you go MORE than 1-2 times per month, you are clearly criminally insane if you do not add this pass to your repertoire of monthly bills. And the best part of all — you’ll feel much better about the exorbitant food prices, your cold-hard cash helping to support the theater (and presumably Moviepass), providing some of the fodder keeping this sweet sweet gravy train moving for as long as its little wheels can carry it. 

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