As soon as described because the Netflix of film theaters, the subscription-based film ticket service MoviePass blew up the trade with its 2017 worth drop, which promised the power for subscribers to go to the flicks day-after-day for lower than $10 per thirty days.
On the time, it sounded too good to be true, and within the months that adopted, hundreds of thousands of subscribers would learn the way right that preliminary evaluation was, as one downside after one other plagued the favored service. Recently, not every week — and typically, not even a day — goes by with out some new twist within the MoviePass saga, portray a portrait of a intelligent concept that’s, sadly, unsustainable in its present iteration.
Within the curiosity of protecting observe of all of the occasions as they transpire, we’ve put collectively a timeline of key moments within the temporary however fascinating evolution (and potential demise) of MoviePass, which might be up to date because the saga unfolds. (Observe: Scroll to the underside for the newest updates.)
June 2011: MoviePass exams its service for the primary time in San Francisco, providing subscribers the chance to see one film every day for a month-to-month payment. After 19,000 individuals join, theater chains not solely take discover however refuse to cooperate with the fledgling third-party system MoviePass makes use of to buy tickets. The service is rapidly revamped to require subscribers to print out vouchers for every film ticket at dwelling, however subscribers complain that the system is just too cumbersome. In the meantime, theaters balk on the time it takes to redeem the vouchers within the ticketing system.
October 2012: A nationwide beta check for MoviePass launches, with subscribers paying between $29 and $34 every month, relying on their location. As a substitute of requiring subscribers to print out vouchers, the brand new system makes use of a cell app and electronically loaded debit card that unlocks when a film and screening time is chosen for that day. Regardless of assurances that the cardboard might be accepted in any respect main theaters, AMC and different chains resist collaborating within the service.
December 2014: Dwindling ticket gross sales for the yr immediate AMC to lastly comply with a partnership with MoviePass, acknowledging that the way forward for the theater trade may lie in Netflix-style subscription providers. The formal partnership between AMC and MoviePass begins with a check section in Boston and Denver theater markets for $45 and $35 month-to-month charges, respectively.
June 2016: The arrival of former Netflix and Redbox government Mitch Lowe as the brand new CEO of MoviePass brings extra modifications, with the service testing totally different subscription plans in sure areas for customers based mostly on what number of motion pictures they watch. A $50 month-to-month payment permits for six motion pictures every month, whereas a $99 plan provides subscribers limitless motion pictures — with each plans now permitting 3-D movies as a part of the deal.
July 2016: A brand new, tier-based plan for MoviePass is formally introduced, with subscribers paying between $15 and $21 for 2 motion pictures per thirty days, relying on the area. (Subscribers positioned in bigger markets pay extra for his or her month-to-month subscription.) Limitless month-to-month film plans are nonetheless out there, however with prices starting from $40 to $50 every month.
December 2016: Whereas asserting a brand new partnership with Studio Film Grill, MoviePass confirms that it has 20,000 subscribers.
August 2017: Analytics agency Helios and Matheson purchases a majority stake in MoviePass because the service broadcasts a main worth drop to $10 per thirty days for limitless motion pictures, one per day. The corporate hopes to subsidize the service by growing membership to a stage at which it could actually promote focused promoting based mostly on customers’ film pursuits, in a lot the identical means Google and Fb assist their free providers. The ensuing surge in subscribers causes the MoviePass web site to crash, and AMC to declare that the “unsustainable” MoviePass and its subscribers are “not welcome” at its theaters.
We're pumped that you just're enthusiastic about our $9.95 plan!! Thx to your persistence as we work to get the location/app again up and operating! pic.twitter.com/f43FhqmtZN
— MoviePass (@MoviePass) August 15, 2017
September 2017: One month after dropping its month-to-month payment to $10, MoviePass reaches 400,000 subscribers. The corporate struggles to maintain up with demand, nevertheless, as MoviePass card shipments are delayed and customer support is overtaxed. Analysts query the corporate’s potential to stay solvent because of the loss it takes from subscribers who see multiple film in a month.
December 2017: MoviePass broadcasts that it now has multiple million subscribers.
February 2018: Two months after crossing the one-million subscriber mark, MoviePass broadcasts that it now has two million subscribers. A promotional worth drop brings the month-to-month subscription payment right down to $eight for brand spanking new prospects who pay for a complete yr of the service up entrance.
March 2018: MoviePass quickly drops its month-to-month payment to a mere $7, only a month after its final worth discount.
April 2018: The corporate’s monetary statements point out that MoviePass is dropping $20 million every month because of the low subscription prices, massive subscriber base, and the price of paying for even reasonable customers’ month-to-month film tickets. The limitless plan for $10 per thirty days is faraway from the service for brand spanking new subscribers and changed with a plan that limits them to three motion pictures every month, whereas subscribers are restricted from buying a number of tickets to sure, high-demand movies.
Might 2018: The $10 limitless plan returns, however MoviePass continues to make the three-movies-per-month plan out there for a $eight month-to-month payment. Restrictions on a number of tickets for sure movies stay in place, nevertheless, with MoviePass citing misuse of the service by subscribers as the explanation for the brand new guidelines. The corporate experiences losses over $40 million throughout the month, the worst month in its historical past up thus far.
June 2018: MoviePass strikes previous three million subscribers, however additionally rolls out new charges for the service. Uber-style “surge” pricing for standard motion pictures and showtimes provides between $2 and $6 per ticket for subscribers, with customers allowed to skip one extra payment per thirty days.
AMC additionally broadcasts its personal, subscription-based film ticket service, AMC Stubs A-Listing. The service permits subscribers to see three motion pictures every week at AMC theaters for a $20 month-to-month payment. MoviePass responds to the announcement on Twitter with derision.
AMC has repeatedly disparaged our mannequin as a technique to discourage our development as a result of all alongside they needed to launch their very own, costlier plan. We need to make motion pictures extra accessible, they need extra revenue.
— MoviePass (@MoviePass) June 20, 2018
July 2018: Web site outages early within the month immediate widespread criticism from subscribers, who recommend the problems could possibly be tied to the discharge of standard movies. MoviePass signifies that it plans to reimburse subscribers who bought tickets out-of-pocket throughout the outage.
Later that month, an incident described as a “service interruption” renders MoviePass unusable. Within the wake of the July 26 outage, MoviePass borrows a further $5 million to be able to hold the lights on and keep operations.
Per week after the service went offline, MoviePass customers report that Mission: Not possible – Fallout, the weekend’s hottest film, is unavailable on the service. The corporate subsequently broadcasts that tickets for main new releases received’t be out there on the service initially — solely after a blackout interval — and that it plans to boost its month-to-month subscription payment to $15.
August 2018: Following a collection of web site crashes occurring every weekend all through the tip of July and into August, MoviePass started limiting subscribers to simply two motion pictures because it enters what it calls a “transition interval.” On August 10, the service compelled customers to decide on between Slender Man and Mission: Not possible – Fallout as the one motion pictures out there, with the latter, extra standard movie solely out there at two off-peak showtimes.
Many subscribers who tried to cancel the service have been additionally routinely re-enrolled within the new MoviePass service introduced later within the month, prompting a public outcry.
I lastly canceled my @Moviepass subscription yesterday and as we speak I acquired this e-mail. Then I attempted to stop AGAIN, and it wouldn’t let me. What sort of Twilight Zone shit is that this pic.twitter.com/1lv1OG2we3
— Chase Mitchell (@ChaseMit) August 13, 2018
Beneath the brand new plan introduced August 16, MoviePass walked again among the modifications it introduced the prior month, bringing the month-to-month subscription payment again to right down to $10. At time of publication, nevertheless, subscribers are restricted to 3 motion pictures every month, preselected from as much as six movies and showtimes. The pool of eligible movies consists of each unbiased motion pictures and main releases, with the checklist altering periodically.
We need to share extra particulars about our service transferring ahead as a part of our dedication to maintain you totally knowledgeable. Right here’s a full lineup of film titles out there on MoviePass within the coming days: https://t.co/BE9St1gDfF pic.twitter.com/OFCR56fcGd
— MoviePass (@MoviePass) August 16, 2018
The service additionally introduced an finish to its controversial surge pricing for standard motion pictures and showtimes.
The corporate went a step additional later within the month, informing members with annual subscriptions — which had remained usually unchanged as much as that time amid all the shifting guidelines — that their plans can be modified to month-to-month subscriptions, and they’d now be restricted to 3 motion pictures every month as a substitute of 1 per day. Anybody wishing to cancel their subscription would have the rest of their annual payment refunded, in response to an e-mail despatched to subscribers.
A couple of days after the annual subscriptions have been eradicated, a member of the board of administrators for MoviePass’ guardian firm, Helios and Matheson Analytics, resigned, citing considerations about company administration.
Over the past two months, the corporate’s administration “has made a lot of necessary company selections and executed vital transactions both with out board information or approval, or in board conferences initiated with just a few hours of advance discover by e-mail,” defined Carl Schramm in a letter filed with the Securities and Alternate Fee.
September 2018: Selection confirmed that MoviePass Chief Product Officer Mike Berkley left the corporate. Berkley had been on the job for about six months earlier than resigning. Berkley didn’t present any particulars concerning his resolution to depart.
good finish to the week. i attempted to kill my moviepass account by simply not opting into the brand new plan final month and now there’s a brand new plan and they’re making an attempt to cost me cash once more except i choose out pic.twitter.com/VT3F9tB1xr
— brian feldman (@bafeldman) September 28, 2018
Later within the month, extra complaints started circulating (see above) — this time from former MoviePass subscribers — concerning the corporate’s resolution to re-enroll lapsed subscribers in a brand new plan that will as soon as once more give them limitless motion pictures every month, however solely from the restricted number of screenings out there. Former subscribers who thought they have been carried out with MoviePass out of the blue discovered themselves re-enrolled in a brand new plan with little discover and only a few weeks to choose out of the brand new subscription.
October 2018: Controversy and scandal continued to encompass MoviePass with the information that New York Legal professional Normal Barbara Underwood opened an investigation into MoviePass guardian firm Helios and Matheson to find out whether or not the corporate misled buyers concerning its belongings. The investigation was initiated underneath the Martin Act, a statute created to analyze potential fraud.
“We’re conscious of the New York Legal professional Normal’s inquiry and are totally cooperating,” Helios and Matheson mentioned in a press release to CNBC. “We consider our public disclosures have been full, well timed, and truthful and now we have not misled buyers. We sit up for the chance to show that to the New York Legal professional Normal.”
January 2019: In what’s both a brand new starting for MoviePass or presumably the corporate’s final gasp earlier than dying completely, a brand new advertising marketing campaign was launched with the tag line, “Let’s go to the flicks.” MoviePass plans to reintroduce some form of limitless program that will allow customers to see as many motion pictures as they needed every month, in response to an interview with Selection.
Govt Vice President Khalid Itum didn’t supply particulars on the pricing of this return-to-unlimited viewing, however it’s simple to deduce it will likely be nowhere close to as low cost as that deal as soon as was. The proof: MoviePass’ plans, which embrace location-specific gives comparable to Choose, a $10 per thirty days/three-movie cross; Purple Carpet, that will increase the worth to $20, however provides IMAX, 3D, and different premium codecs as viewing choices. These costs mirror the prices of offering screenings in areas in the midst of the nation. In main cities, nevertheless, you possibly can anticipate a $5 premium added to every of those plans, to account for the costlier ticket costs.
The corporate can be trying to bury the hatchet with film theaters. Industrial exhibitors had beforehand seen pink over MoviePass’s plans to take large cuts on concession gross sales, in addition to make theaters supply discounted tickets to MoviePass subscribers. Now, with a “pink label” resolution for exhibitors, theaters may launch their very own subscription applications utilizing MoviePass’s platform and expertise.
March 2019: 4 months after launching its tiered plan, MoviePass introduced one more change to its service — this time, reverting again to a limiteless plan, however with an extended checklist of caveats and restrictions.
The brand new service, dubbed MoviePass Uncapped, provided a limiteless quantity of flicks every month, beginning at a $10 month-to-month payment. So as to qualify for that month-to-month fee, nevertheless, subscribers should pay for all 12 months upfront. Screenings are additionally topic to considerably vaguely outlined restrictions, with the MoviePass website indicating that your film decisions “could also be restricted as a consequence of extreme particular person utilization which negatively impacts system-wide capability.”
The brand new plan additionally requires subscribers reserve seats no less than three hours prematurely and verify in throughout a set time frame earlier than the movie begins, whereas additionally issuing a comparatively ambiguous disclaimer concerning the service’s proper to droop your account for quite a lot of causes.
July 2019: On July 4th — proper in the midst of the summer time blockbuster season, on the very starting of a four-day weekend, and only a few days after one of many summer time’s greatest motion pictures, Spider-Man: Far From House hit theaters — MoviePass suspended its service for all subscribers, with no date specified for its return.
In accordance with MoviePass, the service outage had much less to do with the corporate’s ongoing monetary troubles, and extra with the necessity to replace MoviePass’ tech. In an e-mail to subscribers, Mike Lowe, MoviePass CEO, acknowledged “the frustrations of our subscribers” and promised to do higher. “We plan to make this enchancment by using an enhanced expertise platform, which is within the ultimate phases of completion,” Lowe wrote.
The MoviePass updates will embrace extra options, an improved person interface, and “extra helpful info,” however the actual nature of the enhancements wasn’t specified.
MoviePass promised to credit score prospects for any time that they miss throughout the outage, and new prospects have been prevented from signing up whereas MoviePass is down. Nonetheless, for MoviePass’ long-suffering subscribers, unexpectedly dropping entry to the service throughout what needs to be one in all its busiest weekends of the yr couldn’t sit effectively, particularly in any case of MoviePass’ different blunders.
August 2019: As if issues weren’t unhealthy sufficient, safety researcher Mossab Hussein of the cybersecurity agency SpiderSilk discovered a large encrypted database that uncovered tens of hundreds of MoviePass buyer bank card numbers, in response to TechCrunch. TechCrunch mentioned that the database on one of many firm’s subdomains wasn’t password protected, so anybody may entry it, and that it remained up for days after Hussain found it.
We’ll be updating this put up because the saga (and controversy) continues, so keep tuned.
Up to date on August 20, 2019: Added information concerning MoviePass database exposing buyer bank card numbers.