Will the troubled company's newest pricing plan finally save its hide?
2018 was not a stellar year for MoviePass. After an acquisition late in 2017 by parent company Helios + Matheson, an ensuing price cut to $9.95 a month for unlimited movies sent the company skyrocketing in popularity but spiraling in profitability. While a dream come true for cinephiles, it was a totally unsustainable business model.
The average movie ticket costs $9.16 and MoviePass was left paying for the price of admission every time you go and see a movie using the service, which means that if you see more than one movie a month the company takes a loss. If you see two movies they pay double what they gain, three movies, triple, and on and on. Ideally, for the company to become profitable, an average user would see one-and-a-half movies a month. Unfortunately, they failed to fully realize their market base, underestimating the ration of die-hard cinephiles to casual moviegoers.
Helios + Matheson lost $137.2 million last quarter alone. This led to random outages in service, surge pricing, and sweeping changes to their payment plan models. These changes didn't go over so well with their customers. Currently, MoviePass lets subscribers see one movie per calendar day, limited to three per month, but with a limited selection of movies. Major blockbusters don't appear on the app until several weeks after their release, if at all.
After months of research, MoviePass has sent out their solution for 2019. A new monthly plan that offers three options: Select, All Access, and Red Carpet.
People who still use the service may be disappointed to see that the models all have the same three-movie cap. The difference seems to be that the more money you pay, the more screenings you'll have access to. How exactly this works out for the company, who really knows? The Select plan is basically the current plan; limited movie selection for the lowest available price. All Access broadens the movie slate, and Red Carpet includes an iMax or 3D.
According to Wired, "The Select selection, too, likely won't improve much. MoviePass plans to eventually base availability on what it calls an 'inventory-driven model,' in which movie theaters can dictate MoviePass showtimes based on which seats they most need to fill. In other words, the seats no one wants."
It's a little hard to trust, but MoviePass claims that the other new MoviePass plans will return customers to the days of being able to see whatever movie they want, wherever they want. For a limited time, you can opt for a 12-month subscription to one of those two price tiers.
The question is, do you trust MoviePass enough to purchase a year-long subscription? After a year of unannounced and volatile policy changes, the company is going to have a hell of a time winning back the trust of its former consumers.
Let's also not forget about new services that have sprouted out of theater chains themselves such as AMC Stubs A-List, which for $20 per month, gives you three movies per week, including IMAX and 3-D showings. That's a much better deal all around.