Considering this blog is dedicated to streaming content, it may surprise you to learn that I also enjoy venturing off my couch and into the real world every once and a while for a visit to the local multiplex.
Why, you may be asking, would I spend close to $20 (the going rate for a movie ticket in NYC) to leave my house and trek to the local AMC when I have thousands of streaming options right at my fingertips via Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO GO and more?
Well, MoviePass is making theater-going more accessible for streamers and IRL movie buffs alike by lowering the barrier to entry. For just $9.95 per month, you can see one movie of your choice every day. Even if you end up at one showing every two months, you’re already covering your cost!
Though you may have just begun to hear rumbings about this seemingly too-good-to-be-true service in the last few months, MoviePass has actually been around since 2011. However, when the company announced a price drop for the subscription (from $50 to $9.95), MoviePass saw its subscriber base swell to $1.5 million subscribers (via The Washington Post). It may come as no surprise then, that this price model change came at the behest of an all-time streamer, Netflix co-founder Mitch Lowe, who took over as MoviePass CEO in June 2016.
So, the question for some still remains: is MoviePass worth it?
This streamer’s answer: yes! But any new subscribers must understand the caveats below.
Tickets are not available for purchase online.
This is probably the biggest drawback of the service. At this point in time, no NYC-area theaters are eligible for online ticketing. This means you must go to the theater to purchase your tickets, risking trekking all the way there only to be met with a sold out show (Black Panther, anyone?)
There are two potential workarounds here: visit the theater earlier in the day to purchase your tickets ahead of time, or arrive early for the showing. This adds an extra layer of inconvenience to your movie-going experience to be sure, but in many theaters without assigned seating, arriving early is often a necessity anyway – it only takes ten minutes of craning your neck in the front row of Murder on the Orient Express in order to catch a glimpse of Kenneth Branagh’s truly absurd mustache to make you rethink your tardiness.
A last resort if your desired showtime is sold out: see another film. While it would not be my first choice to trade my Saturday with Meryl in The Post for Jack Black in the Jumangi remake, IT’S BASICALLY FREE.
2. Their customer service leaves a lot to be desired.
If something does go wrong with your app or ticket purchase, you’re pretty much on your own. You can barely spit out “MoivePa--” before the theater employee cuts you off with a terse, “We have no affiliation with MoviePass. NEXT.”
The phone number on the back of your card redirects you to the app’s chat feature, which is basically akin to messaging with a disinterested Bumble match – don’t expect a reply. When my card malfunctioned trying to buy a ticket - this did only happen once, and I’ve been to 6 movies so far – I had no recourse. If you’re looking to be coddled but customer service reps, this is not the service for you.
3. Your movie-going habits are being mined for data.
The old MoviePass, with its higher price point, basically mimicked a gym membership in its model for profitability – they’re counting on those couch-surfer no-shows to make up for the money lost of those utilizing the service. When Lowe took over, he pivoted to where the real money lies: data. MoviePass is in a unique position to track moviegoers’ habits across the country, information that could prove valuable to local businesses (restaurants and retails). It also could be a boon for studios in encouraging ticket purchases for smaller-budget films one would usually wait to see on-demand or on cable.
If you’ve made it this far, what are you waiting for??
Enroll now at https://www.moviepass.com/register/.