MoviePass is making nice with its biggest foes: Movie theater operators. But will it be enough for the beleaguered movie ticket subscription company to revive itself (and its reputation) and make a real comeback?
According to a report in Variety, MoviePass, the too-good-to-be-true startup that at one point offered movie lovers the opportunity to see unlimited movies for just $9.99 a month before spiraling very publicly into near collapse, has been on the charm offensive with major movie chains in recent weeks. The move collides with the rollout of new subscription plans that MoviePass hopes will prove more sustainable than its earlier offerings.
As for those plans: For customers in the middle of the country, where movie tickets are cheaper, there’s a “select” package for $9.95 that allows monthly subscribers to see three movies per month during their theatrical run. There’s also a “red carpet” plan for $19.95 that allows subscribers to see any three movies at at any time, including in IMAX, 3D, and other premium formats. In major cities, where tickets are more expensive, the “select” package costs $14.95, and the “red carpet” plan is $24.95. Next week, the company plans to announce an unlimited package, but it’s not clear how much that will cost.
In addition to coming up with plans that make business sense and won’t throw MoviePass–which has to pay full price for all of its tickets–into bankruptcy, the company needs to be on the same page, or at least mostly on the same page, as the theater owners who essentially hold the keys to the kingdom. MoviePass’s first incarnation was defined by an outright war with exhibitors like AMC and Regal, who refused to work directly with the service. At one point, AMC sent a cease-and-desist letter to MovieTickets.com, which MoviePass initially partnered with to buy cheaper tickets for customers. The company then switched gears and had customers buy tickets using debit cards.
For the company to thrive, it must move beyond being merely tolerated by theaters; there needs to be a real partnership.
To that end, Khalid Itum, executive VP of MoviePass, has been meeting with theater owners in recent weeks. MoviePass also just launched a new campaign that is essentially a big, wet kiss to theaters. Print ads and billboards in Times Square feature moviegoers staring adoringly up at big screens. The tagline: “Let’s go to the movies.”
The question is, Is it too late for a détente? Since MoviePass launched, AMC has started its own movie ticket subscription service. It’s safe to assume others will follow in its footsteps, taking the basic idea of MoviePass–a monthly plan for cinema lovers–but adopting it in a sustainable way.
If so, MoviePass will have to do a lot more than just blow kisses.