Cinemark Takes on MoviePass With Monthly Movie Subscription Service
But don't expect unlimited monthly tickets.
Back in August, MoviePass sent shockwaves through the U.S. theatrical exhibition market by offering its monthly subscription service to see an unlimited number of movies in the theaters with no blackouts for only $9.95/month. While this may look like a money-losing proposition on the surface, MoviePass actually intends to put together a giant consumer database of frequent moviegoers and use big data to figure out how and when these moviegoers decide to go see specific movies (MoviePass sold a majority stake in its company to big data firm Helios and Matheson Analytics just prior to its new monthly subscription price announcement in August). Ultimately, the company could help distributors target their key customers much more effectively.
Exhibitors, however, are wary of the service. Right now, MoviePass pays exhibitors the full price of the ticket, so theaters and studios aren't losing any money in the exchange. The concern is that if Moviepass really takes off and millions of moviegoers purchase their tickets through its app, the monthly subscription service provider could use that leverage to negotiate lower ticket prices for its customers from the major theatre chains.
The international theater chain Cinemark has now announced its own monthly subscription program called Movie Club for a monthly fee of $8.99. Cinemark's Movie Club, however, is not really like MoviePass. Instead, Movie Club is essentially a discount loyalty program that provides subscribers with one (yes, only one) 2-D movie ticket a month, plus the ability to purchase additional tickets at the discounted price of $8.99 each, the ability to reserve seats in advance online with no additional fees, and 20% discounts on concessions. All unused Movie Club monthly tickets roll over to the next month (which is nice, but why even subscribe in the first place if you don't go to the movies at least once a month?).
The main advantage of Cinemark's Movie Club over MoviePass is the ability to reserve tickets in advance online (and no online fees, either). In the vast majority of cases, MoviePass subscribers currently need to go to theaters to purchase their tickets with the MoviePass debit card. As more major chains move toward reserved seating, waiting to get to the theater to buy your tickets is becoming less and less convenient (good luck getting tickets for Star Wars: The Last Jedi on opening night in a major metropolitan area with MoviePass).
Of course, with Cinemark's Movie Club, you're limited to Cinemark theatre chains, including Century Theatres, Tinseltown and Rave Cinemas, unlike MoviePass and its 91% of all U.S. theatre chains (including Cinemark properties).
We don't expect Cinemark's Movie Club to create big waves in the exhibition space, but this program may be the start of theatre chains coming up with creative strategies to lure customers out of their houses, away from their Netflix and Amazon Prime and Hulu subscriptions, and back into the theaters on a more frequent basis. That is, before MoviePass buys up all of the tickets.
Do you think the Movie Club is a good deal? Will these services end up helping or hurting filmmakers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.