MoviePass is rumbling back to life.
The movie ticket subscription service that briefly flared up in 2017 before crashing and burning two years later is making its first moves to reviving the company starting this weekend as it will begin taking signups on its website for people willing to participate in a Beta Test of the overhauled program. Signups for the waitlist will begin Thursday, August 25 at 9am ET. The waitlist is free to join and will be serviced on a first-come first-served basis. It will only be open for five days and the first batch of beta testers will be notified on or about Labor Day.
The new service is reportedly going to offer three tiers of membership – $10, $20 or $30 per month. There is no word yet as to what benefits each of these tiers will offer.
Late last year, Stacy Spikes, one of MoviePass’s original founders who left the company after it was acquired by analytics firm Helios Matheson Analytics, made the first moves towards regaining control of MoviePass. This past spring he made an announcement where he admitted that the company had made mistakes in the past but had learned from them and would be relaunching the service at some point this summer. Now, with just a week or so to spare, he is making good on that promise.
But MoviePass does face an uphill battle in its comeback. Many former subscribers may likely feel wary about signing up for the service again, especially those who had annual prepaid plans and did not receive prorated refunds when the original version of the company declared bankruptcy. Also, theater attendance is not back up to where it was in 2019, pre-COVID pandemic. It is possible that former subscribers may hold off on returning until they feel safer about venturing out to movie theaters with a regularity that would make enrolling in a revived MoviePass a good idea.
Although the original iteration of MoviePass failed, it did show that there was an appetite amongst consumers for a movie ticket subscription service. AMC, Cinemark, Regal and Alamo Drafthouse all opened their own similar programs and those members may not be interested in signing up for a second service. To its advantage though, MoviePass was theater chain agnostic and if that continues, it can be used at virtually any movie theater chain.
At the peak of its initial run, MoviePass boasted a subscriber 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. (When the company launched the subscription rate was $30 a month, but struggled for years to build their subscriber base. The drop to $10 a month saw a corresponding boom in enrollment in the program.)
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, while 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. The company lasted a bit linger than those predictoins, but eventually folded up shop in mid-September 2019 with a subscriber base estimated in the low 100,000s.
The Day I Met El Chapo producer David Broome stated that he was working on a documentary charting the company’s rise and meteoric fall in 2021, but there has been no further word on the project.