MoviePass’s new $10 a month price point seems to be too good to pass up. They’ve rapidly increased their subscriber base and, despite upsetting the country’s largest theater operator, it doesn’t look like anyone can do anything about it.
In just two days, MoviePass was able to raise their sub level to more than 150,000, according to Deadline Hollywood. That’s over seven times the subscribers they had last December (when the bare bones package cost $15), and already surpasses their subscriber target level for late 2018. And Helios and Matheson Analytics, who recently bought MoviePass, reports that MoviePass attendance is already on the up and up at their unnamed theater chained partners (from 206 a week to 4,137 a week). People want their unlimited movies, and they want them now.
MoviePass recently sent out an email to new subscribers that reads:
"We’ve been blown away with all of the excitement surrounding our new $9.95 unlimited plan. Though we anticipated a high level of interest, we received an unprecedented volume of traffic: so much so, it completely crashed our servers. Last week, MoviePass was the #1 consumer news story in the world.
To meet this demand, our production facility has rapidly increased capacity. Currently, you should expect to receive your card around September 6-10th. If you signed up Tuesday, August 15th or Wednesday, August 16th, expect it sooner. Orders are being fulfilled in the order in which they are received. We apologize for the delay. Your account will not activate until you’ve received your MoviePass card and your billing date will be adjusted accordingly..."
They go on to explain, however, that new subscribers can still see movies at theaters that agree to accept MoviePass e-ticketing. You’ll have to check your MoviePass app to see if any qualifying theaters in your area.
MoviePass has an agreement with MasterCard to provide their pre-loaded debit cards that subscribers use to purchase movie tickets at full price. MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe told Variety:
We comply fully with the rules of MasterCard and AMC has signed agreements with both their credit card processor and with MasterCard to comply with all the rules. They would essentially have to not take MasterCard in order to block us.
That’s something AMC probably doesn’t want to do, as it would alienate a large portion of their customers. So what can AMC and other theater operators do? For now, they can block e-tickets to make using MoviePass more inconvenient to use. That means no snagging tickets at home for shows at a later date or time. Even so, MoviePass subscribers can still walk up to an AMC and buy a movie ticket with their MoviePass card, and AMC will have to grin and accept the full ticket price they’re being paid.
Here’s the kicker, though: out of all the movie theaters MoviePass subscribers currently have access to, only 6% of them offered e-ticketing anyway. So, blocking e-tickets is only making a very small number smaller. MoviePass users can still walk up to almost any theater and swipe their card for a free flick every day. However, if MoviePass users use the service as advertised—meaning seeing several movies a week—the company stands to lose a lot of money. Money they were hoping to recoup by negotiating deals with movie studios and theater operators once they, hopefully, prove they can increase attendance and show off all the fancy data they’re collecting. At this point in time, studios and theaters don’t seem to be too pleased with this new approach for moviegoers, so we’ll have to see how it all shakes out.
That said, if you recently signed up for MoviePass, it’s going to work great for now—even at AMC theaters (just not e-ticketing). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta get back to staring at my mailbox waiting for my card to arrive.