It sounded too good to be true, and ultimately it was.
MoviePass, which had been kicking around relatively under the radar since 2011, announced a plan in fall 2017 to let users see up to one movie per day in participating theaters for $10 a month. In most major markets, a $10 ticket for just one movie, period, is a great deal. One movie per day for that monthly price is just preposterous. In order for the service to turn any kind of profit, MoviePass users would have to follow the rich tradition of gym members who get all fired up at first and then rarely use their membership. More people than not, however, loathe going to the gym but love going to the movies, and so MoviePass proved unsustainable. By August 24, 2018, the company had pulled the plug on the unlimited movies model.
It looks like that model may have a future, though, in a few different ways.
On Tuesday, MoviePass announced a limited-time offering of a plan, called MoviePass Uncapped, in which subscribers can see up to one movie per day again, for an annual fee of about $120 paid in advance. (It’s $14.95 if users elect to pay on a monthly basis.) Also, once that elusively described “limited time” offer ends, the cost will rise to $19.95 per month.
If $19.95 a month sounds like a decent deal for a movie per day, though, imagine seeing a movie per day in the cozy confines of an Alamo Drafthouse. As Business Insider reports, Alamo Drafthouse has been beta-testing an unlimited plan and plans to go public with it at an unspecified date later this year—at that same price point.
“It’s working for us, and we love it,” Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League told the outlet. “It’s one of our biggest priorities this year, to get that rolled out.”
Unfortunately, League also added that “in some cases the monthly price would depend on the market,” which is bad news for any Alamo-loving coastal elites who may be reading this.
If Brooklyn moviegoers end up finding Alamo’s monthly unlimited plan too costly, there is one more option. MoviePass’s original founder, Stacy Spikes, just announced the launch of his next company, PreShow. It’s set to be the first ad-supported theater network, which will allow users to pay for unlimited moviegoing with their endurance for being advertised to.
Although it’s now in a beta phase, exclusively on Kickstarter, PreShow members who download the app will need to watch a 15-to-20 minute “preshow” consisting of branded content. (Sweet, sweet branded content. Yummy!) Lest users think they can outsmart the system and not watch all that content, the service uses “proprietary facial-recognition tech” as a fail-safe, to ensure users actually do watch. Users then receive credits for a free movie in any theater of their choice, which they will probably see with a friend who also had a magic robot scan his or her face to ensure, Clockwork Orange-style, that the content was absorbed.
Welcome to the incredible, weird future of movies!