Once upon a time, back before global pandemics and massive theater closures, there was a company called MoviePass. For a brief time around 2018 it was one of the biggest names in the industry. It was both incredibly popular with some, and a much maligned company with others. It offered a service that seemed at the time too good to be true, and then it was revealed to be just that. MoviePass shutdown after losing millions of dollars, but now it appears that, with movie theaters themselves on the way back, MoviePass might also be ready for a big return.
If you visit Moviepass.com right now that website still has the message from CEO Mitch Lowe announcing that the MoviePass service, which gave customers the ability to pay a single subscription price for unlimited movie tickets, was suspending service. However, a new MoviePass website, moviepass.ventures, is currently online running a countdown timer that will expire on March 22, with a simple message "the movie is about to start."
While certainly far from clear, it seems that something is going to happen on this site in six days and that, in some form, MoviePass is about to come back. The company suspended service in September of 2019 and we really haven't heard much about it since. Ted Farnsworth, the former head of MoviePass parent company Helios and Matheson, expressed interest at the time in seeing MoviePass come back in some way, and it's possible that's exactly what we're seeing here. But we may need to wait six days to know for sure.
MoviePass, for those that missed that particular roller coaster, was a subscription service that allowed users to pay them a monthly fee, and then see some number of movies in theaters at no additional charge. In the summer of 2017, MoviePass lowered the price of its unlimited plan to $9.95 a month, meaning users could go to the movies as often as they wanted for less than $10 a month. Considering that a single movie ticket can cost more than that in major markets, the service became instantly popular and MoviePass' subscriber numbers jumped from the tens of thousands into the millions.
The service seemed to be untenable at that price point, and it quickly appeared that was the case. Some movie theater chains, like AMC, had issues with MoviePass and refused to honor the service. Chains also came out with their own similar programs in order to compete directly with MoviePass. MoviePass began to hemorrhage money, resulting in unannounced changes to the service like blackouts on new releases or adding surge pricing. The company then tried to introduce new plans that were more profitable for the company, but following frustration from many consumers, it seemed interest was gone. The subscription service ultimately ended in September 2019. Although, there were reports of some customers being charged even after that.
But it looks like MoviePass is coming back. But what that means is still very much a mystery. Is this the MoviePass name under new management, or is the brand being brought back from the dead by the same people who oversaw the demise? Is MoviePass still a subscription service or is the name going to be used on some other product? A MoviePass like service could be incredibly useful for theaters if it incentivizes people to go back to see movies that way, but that assumes people are willing to give this new MoviePass a chance.
What do you think? Are you interested in a new MoviePass? Let us know in the poll below.