In an effort to keep the wildly popular theatergoing subscription service afloat, MoviePass recently announced that it would be implementing changes to its business model. One of those changes that subscribers were warned was coming is the addition of surge pricing, similar to Uber, where subscribers would have to pay more for certain showtimes on certain movies. That surge pricing, which MoviePass has dubbed "Peak Pricing," has officially begun rolling out today, so here's what's going on with it and how it works.
The peak pricing goes into effect when there is high demand for a particular movie or showtime. When this happens, users may be asked to pay an additional fee according to the level of demand. As explained by Variety, in MoviePass's example, the listed showtime on the MoviePass app will display a red lightning bolt icon indicating that peak pricing is in effect for that showtime. If subscribers wish to see a showing where peak pricing is in effect, they will be asked to pay an additional fee. Those wishing to avoid the surcharge can choose another movie or showtime. Some showings in the app will also display grey lightning bolt icons, signifying that the listed screening does not currently incur an added fee, but demand is growing. So basically, if you want that one, buy your tickets soon. Over the next few weeks, MoviePass will also be introducing Peak Pass, which will allow subscribers to waive one peak fee per month.
When we first heard about MoviePass implementing surge prices, it was reported that the additional fees would start at $2 as a minimum. The example that MoviePass provided today showed an evening screening of Avengers: Infinity War (at a generic fake theater) being subject to a peak pricing fee of $3.43. MoviePass said that the amount of the surcharge will vary based on the showtime and the movie title. However, what is unclear is just how high the surcharge can go. I'm also not entirely sure if it is just the popularity of the movie and the showtime that determines peak pricing, or if the location plays any role in things.
Now, if you're checking your MoviePass app to see if you'll be charged extra to see Ant-Man and the Wasp tonight, you may not see any of these new icons. That's because the peak pricing is rolling out gradually and may not be in effect in your area yet.
The prospect of paying more is, of course, a bummer for MoviePass subscribers, but if it helps the service to stay in business at an attractive price for consumers, then perhaps it is a win in the long run. Obviously subscribers will have to do their own calculations about whether they want to pay extra to see a particular movie and whether or not this affects their perceived value of the service. Peak pricing isn't the only change MoviePass has in the works either. The service will soon be adding a family plan, as well as an option to upgrade to premium format showings for an additional fee.
For all of the biggest movies hitting theaters this year that might be worth paying a little extra to see, check out our release schedule.