MoviePass has made itself incredibly valuable to a lot of moviegoers, but that value may have been greatly reduced for some users who wanted to use their subscription to see Red Sparrow this weekend, but found they could not. It seems that in some regions MoviePass has blocked the film entirely. According to MoviePass, the reason for this decision was essentially to act as a test, in order to "better understand member behavior." In a statement the company said...

We are constantly testing all aspects of our service to optimize the model for theaters, distributors and members. We occasionally remove some films from our ticketing inventory in some markets for a limited time, similar to how we organically promote films in certain markets to better understand member behavior. As part of this ongoing testing, we have stepped up our efforts to remind members to always double-check the MoviePass app to confirm that their preferred showtimes and theaters are available for the movie they are planning to see before they leave for the theater.

The statement seems to indicate that Red Sparrow was chosen at random, just to see what would happen if the movie wasn't available to users. Will users be upset? Will they go see a different movie at the same theater? How far might users be willing to travel to get to a theater that is showing the film? According to Deadline, regions like Washington D.C. and Southern California were impacted by the Red Sparrow blackout, though apparently, not every theater in Los Angeles had the film blocked, so if you were lucky, or if you were willing to drive, you could still use your MoviePass.

MoviePass has made it clear that customer data is a big part of the company's business model and this would appear to be an aspect of that goal. MoviePass has frequently touted how much of the box office is now dependent on MoviePass users, and by removing one of this weekend's new releases, they can potentially show some of that market power. By seeing how users respond to the movie not being available, MoviePass will gain information about movie watching habits that others, like studios, could potentially use.

Of course, there is one user response that MoviePass can't track, which is the number of people who just don't bother with MoviePass and decide to go and buy a ticket for Red Sparrow rather than use MoviePass. Although, if the company sees a lot of people cancel their subscription who tend to use the app in affected locations, that might tell them something too.

While it's not made explicitly clear by MoviePass, it sounds like Red Sparrow will be available via MoviePass in these blacked out regions at some point, likely once the weekend is over. However, it sounds like this could happen in the future with other movies and other theaters, which means MoviePass users will need to pay attention before making movie plans.

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