After seemingly cheating death a number of times, the financially beleaguered MoviePass is finally being declared dead.
Helio and Matheson analytics, the parent company of MoviePass, has announced that the service will be shutting down tomorrow, September 14.
At the peak of its short life in June 2018, MoviePass boasted a subscriper base of some 3 million customers who were able to see one movie a day, every day of the month for a fee of just $9.99. Initially, the company hoped to be able to sell the data it was collecting about its users’ movie-going habits, for possible use in demographic-targeted advertising. It also looked as if MoviePass was counting on usage similar to health clubs, where some subscribers use the service on a regular basis, but the bulk of customers might not from month to month while still paying their monthly fee.
The cracks in the company’s surface started to show the summer of 2018 when it was announced that it was expecting to run a deficit of $45 million for the month of June. The weekend of its premier, MoviePass blocked out the ability to purchase tickets for the Tom Cruise action film Mission: Impossible: Fallout. As the summer rolled into the fall, MoviePass continued to change its terms of service and the availability of certain movies as a way to stem the flow of red ink. Many pundits expected the company to fold by the end of the year as users quit the service.
As of today, estimates of MoviePass subscribers range in the low 100,000s.
In a press release, Helios and Matheson explained how the company had been trying and failing at finding a path to profitability.
[O]n September 13, 2019, MoviePass™ notified its subscribers that it would be interrupting the MoviePass™ service for all its subscribers effective September 14, 2019, because its efforts to recapitalize MoviePass™ have not been successful to date. The Company is unable to predict if or when the MoviePass™ service will continue. The Company is continuing its efforts to seek financing to fund its operations. There can be no assurance that any such financing will be obtained.
Note: I have not personally received a notification from the company about the shutdown as a customer.
A similar ticket subscription service – Sinemia – shut down at the end of this past April. It had been the target of a class-action lawsuit and was under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission at the time of its shuttering.
But while some lament the service’s passing, and others dance on its grave, it should be noted that MoviePass did show that there was an appetite among moviegoers for some sort of a subscription-based service. While MoviePass was unable to find a stable financial model on which to build its business, many theater chains looked at their core idea and adapted it for their own patrons. Currently AMC, Cinemark and Alamo Drafthouse all have subscription-based ticket services similar to MoviePass while other chains are exploring creating their own.
Personally, I have to say that I am sad to see the service go. I joined in October 2017 – My first film was the Jackie Chan/Pierce Brosnan dud The Foreigner – and upon a quick review of my account just now, used MoviePass an average of twice a month over the last 23 months. That average would probably have been higher if it weren’t for all the blackouts and restrictions that were put on account use over the past year or so. As someone who likes to see as many films as possible in a theatrical setting, it certainly was a boon and will definitely be missed.