I used to go to the movies a lot. That was back when tickets were $5. Today, a single movie
ticket is as high as $20 in some cities and about $12 at the theaters near me. That’s too much to
see more than 2-3 movies in a month. Not to mention the popcorn and drink and a night out at
the movies for me and a date can easily hit $35 and more if I choose to see a film in IMAX or
I’d love to see more movies at the theater, but can’t afford it.¬†Then, I heard about MoviePass.
MoviePass is a free app and subscription service where you pay $9.95 a month to see 1 movie.
A DAY! That’s right, a movie a day for $10 a month.
I promptly downloaded the app and signed up using my credit card. It took a few weeks but I got
a bright red MasterCard check card in the mail. I was to use it when I pay for a ticket. I fired up
the app to see what’s playing and to see whether this too-good-to-be-true plan actually works.
Following the directions that came with the app I was to go to the theater. I had to be 100 yards
from the theater before I could ‘check-in’ using the app. I picked “American Assassins” on a
Friday night. After checking in on the app it told me my ticket was reserved and that I should
proceed to the theater, buy a ticket and use the check card to pay for it.
MoviePass automatically loads the check card with enough money to pay for the ticket. I
handed it to the young woman at the box office and she told me it covered the $10.01 cost for
my ticket. My wife didn’t have a MoviePass card and I paid full price for her ticket. (I’m in the
process of buying her MoviePass card now).
On Saturday I went to another theater and checked in to see the children’s movie “Leap”. I paid
for the ticket with my MoviePass card and it again saved me roughly $10.
The following day I checked in to see “Mother” and, again my MoviePass card paid for the
ticket. That was roughly $30 worth of movie tickets and I paid $10. I plan to see more movies
this week.
How is this possible? How long can MoviePass stay in business if it’s paying for my tickets while
I pay them just $10 a month? Seems that it’s hoping users will be like the folks who buy a
$10/month membership to a gym and will only see 1 movie a month, or less. Otherwise, I don’t
see how it will last for very long. MoviePass says since it dropped the price of the subscription to
$10 (from the previous $30) over 400,000 people joined the program.
Here’s how MoviePass just may be able to sustain itself: selling your data. According to the
app’s privacy policy, MoviePass will collect information from you and sell it to partners so they
can send out promotional and web-based advertisements. So don’t be surprised if you start
seeing ads for things because you watched “The Emoji Movie” six times.
Some theater chains like AMC aren’t happy with MoviePass and at first glance you might
understand why. But since the company actually pays for the ticket by loading your card at the
theater it seems as though it would be good for theaters. For one thing, it’s bringing in movie
fans (like me) who’d go to the theater if tickets didn’t cost so darned much. It also should lead to
more popcorn and drinks being purchased. Each time I got in free I ended up feeling I could
afford that $14 bucket of popcorn and medium drink.
As a box office agent told me, theaters make pennies on the dollar on the ticket price but
margins on concessions is huge and is really how most theaters stay in business, (popcorn that
costs 10 cents to pop that sells for $10 is total profit).
I wasn’t just impressed with MoviePass, I’m giddy at the likelihood that I’ll go to the theaters
more often. I didn’t even sweat walking out of the showing of “Mother” since I didn’t pay for the
ticket. I’ll find something to see this weekend too.
A couple of things to note: each person needs to have their own MoviePass app and card, as I
said before we’ve already ordered a card for my wife, and there’s no sharing of the card. Each
cash card is tied to the app on your phone so unless you loan someone your phone and your
card, it won’t work.
MoviePass works and is the best deal I’ve found. I’ll stay a subscriber for as long as MoviePass
can stay in business.