AMC testing subscription service for movie theaters
December 17, 2014 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Alamo Drafthouse aside, not many movie theater chains have reported increased attendance in the past few years. Large chains have propped up revenues with ticket price hikes, premium concessions and drinks, but the specter of Netflix and other home viewing platforms looms ominously over the industry. Annual ticket sales in the U.S. have declined to 1995 levels from their high in 2002 (although revenues have grown 3.6% annually over the same period, well outpacing inflation). This January, AMC Theaters will begin testing a new business model in partnership with MoviePass, beginning in Denver and Boston. Subscribers can pay $30-45 a month for a membership good for one film per day at any AMC location. The move echoes a 2013 effort to reopen an independent theater in Oakhurst, CA using a member subscription model. Will it be enough to get more film aficionados off their couches and into a theater seat? The jury's still out.
posted by deludingmyself (101 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
In my opinion for that price, it needs to be at least 2 movies per day or as many movies as you can pack into a day.
posted by royalsong at 12:00 PM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


If it were really damn easy to start and stop the subscription from month to month, I'd consider this. Of course, in NYC it'd probably cost like $70.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:04 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've considered it, and I simply can't see myself getting value out of it. I would consider splitting it among 3 or 4 friends, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't work under their current rules (like, I would imagine they're checking ID on the cash-value card).
posted by codacorolla at 12:04 PM on December 17, 2014


My local AMC charges over $10 for an evening adult ticket to a 2D, non-IMAX movie. I'd only have to see four or five movies a month to break even on this deal. Unfortunately, I don't think they screen enough movies that I'd actually want to see.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:05 PM on December 17, 2014 [21 favorites]


I used to go to the theater every single week. I'd see whatever looked best (obviously). It was my saturday tradition.

The thing is, if you go to a single movie theater (I went to the same one each week, it had maybe 5 or so screens) 4 times a month... Chances are you'll run out of movies you would want to see after 2, maybe 3 weeks (more like 2 weeks).

What I'm saying is that in a large chain, it's pretty rare that there are more than 2 movies you'd want to see in a month.

Making this a bad deal.
posted by el io at 12:05 PM on December 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


Sounds like a bargain to me, but you REALLY gotta LOVE going to the movies.
Even maxing out, $45 a month for 30 movies (one per day), that's a buck fifty per movie.
I looked at MoviePass when it first came out, but (if I remember it correctly) was a bit too restrictive. Didn't you have to wait for new movies or something? Also, you couldn't see the same movie twice?

Anywhoo, I frankly don't think that there are enough GOOD movies out there to go see one a day.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 12:06 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's ~80 bucks a month for me and my wife, and we have to do something with the dogs and also drive to the theater.

And movies, generally, the past few years, have pretty much sucked anyway. It hasn't been 1984 in decades.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:06 PM on December 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's like the Olive Garden year pass. If you're willing to put up with a lot of diarrhea, then it's a spectacular deal.
posted by codacorolla at 12:07 PM on December 17, 2014 [34 favorites]


In the UK, Cineworld (and whatever it was called before) have done unlimited passes for a very long time (at least 10 years) for $20-30 a month, with no per-day limits or anything silly. They're a mainstream, national chain, and it doesn't seem to be a game changer.

(I used to have one when I was unemployed, and thus my specialist subject is second rate movies that came out in 2006. Not been to the cinema much since)
posted by grahamparks at 12:07 PM on December 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'm an adventurous filmgoer in a town crammed with incredible cinemas big and small, so I still go out to the movies at least 3-4 times a month, but I doubt I'd spend that much at AMC. I'd rather spend my money on a Cinefamily black card or a Laemmle premiere card.
posted by mykescipark at 12:08 PM on December 17, 2014


I used to be a huge film buff, but now, I cannot get dragged in to see a movie. They could give it away for free and throw in the stale popcorn, my cats will be more interesting entertainment by a mile...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 12:08 PM on December 17, 2014


They should start a subscription for parents of young children where you can see one movie a year.
posted by bondcliff at 12:11 PM on December 17, 2014 [31 favorites]


This is a "new" thing in degree, not kind. Moviepass already does this at thousands of AMC and non-AMC theaters. The only changes are that it's an extra $5-15 a month, and you can get into 3D/IMAX movies.
posted by Etrigan at 12:11 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Who has time for one film per day? And who would want to see one grimdark superhero reboot every day for more than a month?
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:11 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that something like three-fourths of the people buying this thing will be professional movie reviewers, while the remaining quarter will just have their own Youtube channel.
posted by fifthrider at 12:14 PM on December 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


I consider myself a movie lover and there's only so many mainstream-distribution movies per year that I'm ever interested in. This year I went to Her, Boyhood, Snowpiercer, Gone Girl, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar. I also caught The Grand Budapest Hotel, Under the Skin, 22 Jump Street at home, so let's make that 9. With the subscription I'm still losing a couple hundred, so no thanks.

And when I watch movies at home, I can pair them with pizza, beer, and a couch, so the experience is 100x better.
posted by naju at 12:14 PM on December 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


They should start a subscription for parents of young children where you can see one movie a year.

Seriously. Nothing makes you want to go to the movies more than being completely unable to do so.
posted by selfnoise at 12:15 PM on December 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Subscribers can pay $30-45 a month for a membership good for one film per day at any AMC location.

Also see:
Gym Membership
Pool Membership
All these magazines on iPad
All these magazines in hard copy
Spotify Membership
Bikram Yoga Membership

Other shit I have paid for, and keep paying for because its easier than going through the canceling process(or coming to the realization that I don't do this).
posted by hal_c_on at 12:16 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Huh, I'm the ideal person for this cause I live within walking distance to a megaplex AND I go to the movies at least twice a month, usually more (I like the experience! I like movies!) but it doesn't make money sense.
posted by The Whelk at 12:16 PM on December 17, 2014


If people on cell phones are permanently ejected without reimbursement, SIGN ME UP!
posted by pxe2000 at 12:16 PM on December 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


I recently became unemployed and it hit me, oh my god, I could go see movies in the middle of a weekday for less than 5 bucks a pop. I can get from my house to a pretty decent theater (modern, clean, comfortable seats) in under 10 minutes, so it's not like I'm really put out by getting there, either. Since this realization I have seen...one movie. I have interest in seeing...maybe one more movie. There just aren't enough worthwhile-seeming movies to make even ultra cheap, convenient movies worth going to see.

So right now I'm at home watching Judge Mathis. I regret nothing.
posted by phunniemee at 12:18 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


This would be a bargain if AMC actually ran the movies that I want to see. I end up having to go to either the indie art theater or the non-profit theaters run by a film school to see the films that the big chains won't show.
posted by octothorpe at 12:20 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Who has time for one film per day?

I'm pretty sure that AMC knows that this would appeal to people who spend a whole day watching movies every so often. If they did this 3 times in a month, they could get 12-15 movies in for $45. But then the theater would probably lose money from all of these people taking up 12-15 seats in their theater for only $45.

AMC would rather the everyperson subscribe so that they would have to come in once week to make it worth their while (at $12/movie). And look at that, this could be Friday movie night. And there you go, AMC for the win.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:21 PM on December 17, 2014


The fine print on the MoviePass site says it's an annual contract with early termination fees if you want to cancel.
posted by makeitso at 12:22 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I might as well set my money on fire, for all the use I'd get out of this. Want me to come to your theater? Show something, anything other than brainless Hollywood superhero movies and cheesy SF (I mean, they're fun once in a while, but come on). Serve popcorn that doesn't taste like oversalted styrofoam (for the prices they charge, they really ought to have halfway decent popcorn – it's not like it's difficult or expensive). Stop refrigerating the place. Put your theater downtown, where I actually am – instead of at the mall, where I never go.

I'd like to see more diversity in movie theaters. Instead of a few gigantic screens showing superhero movies, more smaller screens showing a wider variety of films. Maybe even start licensing films for screening in bars and other non-traditional venues. Maybe the economics just don't make it practical, but it'd be nice.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:24 PM on December 17, 2014


Pretty overpriced. A bunch of the profits (I've heard at least) come from the concession stands, so a lower price to get folks into the theater to spring for those spleen eating sugar blasts and banged grains would seem to be the best economic sense. If you drop the price by $10 and get a sucker into the theater 2 times more to go see some marginal movies just to make the deal worth it I'd think they'd more than make up the cost differential.

But I'm pretty curmudgeonly irt movies to start with so you likely shouldn't listen to me on the subject.
posted by edgeways at 12:26 PM on December 17, 2014


I end up having to go to either the indie art theater or the non-profit theaters run by a film school

Yeah, this is me. I was at the Siskel Center to see The Tale of Princess Kaguya* the other day and I ran the numbers on becoming a member. I would only start saving money on my 11th movie of the year, and while I loooooooove the Siskel Center, I'm probably only there 11 times a year.

BUT FOUR FREE POPCORNS!!!

*so pretty and so sad :(((
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:27 PM on December 17, 2014


I think the decline in ticket sales is not mainly due to the availability of films through Netflix and the like, but rather due to the advances in home cinema. In the 90's, we had expensive, kind of crappy 20-30 inch TVs, and VHS tapes. Going to the theater was an entirely different experience. For a lot of films, it didn't even feel right without seeing it on the big screen.

Now, for two people at $30/month for a year, that's $720. With that kind of money, you can instead buy a 50-inch TV and a tall stack of BluRays, and at the end of the year, you still have your screen, making next year even cheaper to watch films. I don't think the theater experience (and all the negatives that entails), is worth that price.

I could maybe see a market for this for a theater that also played a large selection of indie/foreign films, and had a screen for a constantly rotating selection of movies from the past couple years, as well as all the classics. But it would need to be in an area with a lot of film lovers, and that might not even be worth it.
posted by Skephicles at 12:28 PM on December 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


So to get your money's worth out of this, if you're a job- and child-having person, you'd have to devote at least 3 of your Friday or Saturday nights/Sunday afternoons every month to seeing whatever AMC's playing. Which also ensures you don't have time to go to any other theater that is maybe playing another movie you want to see more. Or do something that's not a movie with those nights. While presumably getting babysitting for them too.

Haha no.

Here's the funny thing; right now, AMC is getting maybe 12.00 a year out of me (another chain is closer and gets whatever movie money we have usually). Many years, not even that.

If they sold me a 50.00 pass for a year, maximum of 1 movie a month, I would find that to be a bargain. And they would get more money out of me; I'd bring a friend and pay her way (since I'm getting in free), I might even splurge on a beer/popcorn/giant box of Junior Mints. Some months, like December probably, I most likely wouldn't come see anything, being too busy, so no loss to them.
posted by emjaybee at 12:29 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


the other-side of "the most interesting stories are on TV right now" is that even an impressive home theater doesn't recreate the Movie Experience - and TV shows tend to have very drab cinematography and that's half the reason I'm watching.
posted by The Whelk at 12:31 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oof I heard about the subscription thing earlier and thought it sounded interesting, but this is totally the wrong scale for me. I was picturing something like $100-$120 a year for 1 movie a month. That would multiply my movie going by 4-6, and I could see doing it. I sort of feel like the people who already see lots of movies are still going to see lots of movies, and it's people like me -- the occasional movie goer, but mostly "eh it's easier to just wait until it's on Netflix"-er, to get a small discount to actually get their butts to the theater occasionally.
posted by brainmouse at 12:31 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Netflix is only $8 per month, has hundreds of movies more than my local multiplex can offer, and I still have a hard time finding something I want to watch on it. Additionally, thousands of movies are available on streaming for just a few dollars -- and that pays for every single person in my apartment who watches the film. Many of these films are brand new, too!

In order for a subscription model to work at theaters, they have to offer you something you can't get from home screening, or even better than you get at the theaters right now. There's only about a movie per week I ever want to see in the theaters in general, and my local theater has $5 Tuesdays, so even taking my girlfriend ever single week, it's still cheaper than their subscription model.

I might not be the target audience, but I don't know who is. The protagonist of A Glass Menagerie, who escapes his repressive home life by going to movies all day long?
posted by maxsparber at 12:33 PM on December 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Actually, I have a use-case for this:

Parents with preteen/teen kids. Kids will eagerly see crappy movies because the experience is fun (or at least I did/would when I was a kid). Parents can get a weekly break from the kids and potentially use it as a bribe for the kids ("do the dishes every day and get to go to the movies every saturday and sunday"). Also, parents could have the kids out of the house at least once a week so they can have alone time.
posted by el io at 12:33 PM on December 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


In 2014 I saw the LEGO Movie twice, Maleficent, GotG twice, and I suppose I'll go see the third Hobbit movie. There were a handful more movies that I would be interested in seeing but didn't bother to go, which I might see on Netflix etc. or library-borrowed DVD.

I don't think there's a subscription model that would feel like a good value to me, let me get those repeat viewings in, and still encourage me do do more business with the theater.
posted by Foosnark at 12:38 PM on December 17, 2014


I have a nagging suspicion the analysts running the numbers for this forgot to include Mefites as a demographic.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:41 PM on December 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'll say what I told my boss, when he forwarded this around the office.

Not surprised somebody is trying this. The monthly-subscription-to-everything model is to 2014 as the Groupon-half-price-deal model is to 2010. In other words – a few players are going to make startling amounts of money, and a lot of others are going to lose their shirts chasing it.

But in a way it's kind of sad. They've correctly identified the symptom (young people aren't coming to movie theaters anymore) and one of the diseases (Netflix), but they've completely whiffed on the treatment (be more like Netflix!) because they haven’t realized that the disease is just part of a syndrome (modern life is physically solitary, media consumption patterns have changed, movies aren't what holds the interest of 12-24 year olds anymore, and people like staying at home).
posted by penduluum at 12:44 PM on December 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


MetaFilter: Not your target demographic.
posted by jferg at 12:46 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


You should be able to smoke/vape weed in movie theaters.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 12:51 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Not surprised somebody is trying this. The monthly-subscription-to-everything model is to 2014 as the Groupon-half-price-deal model is to 2010. In other words – a few players are going to make startling amounts of money, and a lot of others are going to lose their shirts chasing it.

I'll admit: as a newish Denver resident, when I saw this I thought "I might try that... if there were a half-price Groupon for it."
posted by deludingmyself at 12:53 PM on December 17, 2014


I was actually just reading something about a pre-release showing of The Interview in Denver that was originally going to be weed-friendly, but was changed to include tequila shots instead. I thought that an odd substitution, but didn't really read further into it.

However, you will apparently now not be able to use your AMC Moviepass to see The Interview, because the digital terrorists have already won.
posted by jferg at 12:54 PM on December 17, 2014


they haven’t realized that the disease is just part of a syndrome (modern life is physically solitary, media consumption patterns have changed, movies aren't what holds the interest of 12-24 year olds anymore, and people like staying at home).

And also, people are broke. Movies aren't a cheap date anymore, even if you sneak in soda and snacks in your giant Mom purse (as I do). Got kids, well, then you pay a babysitter, also not cheap, or pay for their tickets and have to watch a kid movie.

There aren't cheap matinees at lots of places, the dollar theaters are gone. That has a lot to do with why everyone is staying home more.
posted by emjaybee at 12:55 PM on December 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


I wonder why they limit it to one movie a day? Most people aren't going to see more than that and the ones that do are probably kids with too much free time who will load up on concessions. IOW, it probably won't cost the theater any more, but the deal sounds much more awesome (one movie per day vs. as many movies as you can watch).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 12:56 PM on December 17, 2014


I think it's important to note that MoviePass is NOT just AMC theaters. For example, in DC, not only does it include the AMC theaters, but also Regal theaters, Loews theaters, and some indie theaters including the AFI Silver, Avalon, and Angelika Pop-Up. The article is talking about MoviePass Premium, which is will initially be only in two cities, and AMC only with the ability to see all formats of films. It's always possible that it will expand to other areas and theater chains.

Personally, I don't think there's anything better than seeing a movie in a theater, so this is totally right up my alley. I also see a ton of movies, though. So YMMV.
posted by tittergrrl at 12:58 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that something like three-fourths of the people buying this thing will be professional movie reviewers

The pros see a lot of the movies at critics screenings.
posted by benbenson at 1:01 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think the decline in ticket sales is not mainly due to the availability of films through Netflix and the like, but rather due to the advances in home cinema.

For me, it's neither. It's this: "revenues have grown 3.6% annually over the same period, well outpacing inflation."

I'm perfectly content to watch a movie on a teensy tiny screen and without surround sound, but I kind of miss the social aspect of going to the theater. I'd go more often, but around here, the going rate at chain theaters is $14.50 for an adult ticket. That means a family of four is stuck dropping $50 per visit, and that even I, as an individual, am increasingly treating movie theaters as a sometimes food.

I wish theaters didn't see upping the luxury as the solution. I don't want RealD 3D or IMAX screens or plush leather seating. I want to be able to see a movie without thinking, "Should I really be spending money on this? Maybe I should have waited to see That Other Movie instead, because it's not like I'm going to do this twice in one month."
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:02 PM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was a film critic for 10 years. Never paid for a movie.
posted by maxsparber at 1:03 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


IOW, it probably won't cost the theater any more, but the deal sounds much more awesome

It wouldn't cost the theater more, but it would cost them the same price again. It's the same reason for their strange, baroque model of operation -- you reserve a spot, the app puts the price of a ticket on a debit card, you swipe the debit card and get your ticket. Because the accounting for the theater and film distributor means that they can't just let you in without swiping something. The distributor is going to take 25%-85% of the cost of a ticket from the theater for every head that walks in, whether the theater actually received money from that person or not (that's oversimplified but close).

It would probably be easier to, yeah, just be able to use the card as many times as you want. But I think the theaters are afraid that you'll go to the same movie* five times in a day, only buy concessions once or twice, and now they lose their margin.

* By the way, the fine print also says you can only go to any given movie once. So that sucks, too. And I can't see the rationale behind that one at all.
posted by penduluum at 1:03 PM on December 17, 2014


They should start a subscription for parents of young children where you can see one movie a year.

Seriously. Nothing makes you want to go to the movies more than being completely unable to do so.


My wife and I have been pretty much ok with not seeing anything in the theatres these past several years, but we find ourselves at one of those strange moments where there are like 3-4 films out, simultaneously, that we want to go and see (or it might just be that cabin fever has really set in, and we'd watch just about anything to get a night away). Hell with the movie pass, we need a child-care pass.
posted by nubs at 1:05 PM on December 17, 2014


I love watching movies, and in fact even love watching them in theater, but there's just not enough movies per year to justify $480 dollars. The only way I can think of getting my money's worth would either a group pass, or inclusion of some arthouse theaters that play exciting limited release stuff that doesn't hit megaplexes.
posted by codacorolla at 1:14 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Legoland Discovery Center in the Boston area has an annual 4 person family pass for $260. Slumbrew just opened up American Fresh Taproom, a year round heated beer tent, in the parking lot. Moms and Dads - you can spend $1,440 a year for a standing weekend afternoon movie date, or you can spend the same amount on Legos and Beer allowing Mom and Dad to alternate who gets to spend the weekly $22 worth of beer and silence.

Choice is yours.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:18 PM on December 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


This would have been perfect for me as a teenager. Even with matinees and youth pricing, even back in the 80s, movies got expensive fast, but I wanted to watch everything.
posted by gingerest at 1:18 PM on December 17, 2014


tough crowd. This sounds like something I might be interested in. I tend to go to the movies at least once or twice a week. I just like going to the movies. Stealing a couple of hours in the early afternoon on a weekday, and catching a flick in a usually empty theater just never gets old for me. But I'm also self-employed, and don't have kids, so the free-time/quality equation isn't really in play.
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:23 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


We see a movie most weekends. We're most likely to go to Saturday matinees, but with this we would be more likely to go on Friday nights sometimes. Our local AMC has 16 screens and is always playing at least 2 Bollywood movies and frequently an arthouse movie or two. Also, we really like dumb action movies. This would probably save us money.
posted by hydropsyche at 1:33 PM on December 17, 2014


As a teenager I would have been all over this. We did go to the movies at least once a week, specifically to see the most horrible dreck we could. 3-D, sequels of B-movies, we were up for anything on $2 Tuesdays (I'm an old).

Now, who has the time, and movies aren't made for middle aged folks anyway. Besides, red wine is an integral part of our process now.

As an 80s teen, this would have been beyond exciting news. To the next generation, I think they'll shrug and go back to YouTube and Twitch.
posted by bonehead at 1:34 PM on December 17, 2014


It sounds almost interesting to me too, but a few big problems. First off it's not realistically in my budget in the first place, but ignoring that, the apparent restrictions on whether 3D movies are included or not is odd. There's an AMC right next to where I work, regular price is around $12. So, three of those a month and the $30 would start to be a deal, it might even help motivate me to go more often. But now suppose there's one 3D movie that I'm interested in - I am not going to want to pay for a full price ticket to it on top of the subscription I'm already paying for.
posted by dnash at 1:36 PM on December 17, 2014


Oh my god, was nobody on this naysaying thread ever a teenager? This would have been a fantastic gift for my friends and me, who easily saw 4 movies a month and sometimes saw more like 8 movies a month if it happened to be a month with a lot of movies we thought sounded interesting.

Funny thing: you are too busy now to see movies and when you go it feels like they're made for a person with a shorter attention span and different interests than you, so you go even less. But those movies actually are made for people! We call those people teenagers. Their ways seem strange and foreign to us.
posted by town of cats at 1:45 PM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have a Movie Pass. It costs $35/month and it's good at a whole bunch of chain and independent theaters in New York City, including IFC Center, the AMC Empire 25, the Angelika Film Center, the Quad the Nitehawk, BAM Rose, etc. Since I go to see at least a movie a week (generally at $12-$12.50 each) it's a great deal for me. If you scroll down to the bottom of the Times story you'll see that Movie Pass relies on people not using it to make money. (In that case, they will make no money from me.) But presumably the AMC deal gives them some kind of a cut of sales that makes it easier/more profitable for them. Whatever. $35 for all I can watch is a fantastic deal. The most annoying thing is that you can't go see the same movie twice.
posted by Mothlight at 1:47 PM on December 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


The only problem with this is that there just aren't enough films being released to get your money's worth.

Even if you're a high school or college student with the time to literally go to a movie every day, assuming ~5 films playing at a given multiplex at a given time (and those being major releases that will sit in theaters for several weeks), you're looking at bottoming out at 2-3 movies a week. Which is nice, but it's not an amazing deal.

This only works if you're one of those people who wants to see literally every movie, and a lot of them multiple times. But most of those types of people aren't going to want to be limited to the major Hollywood wide-release titles that chains like AMC get.

I would consider doing something like this at the Arclight (in Los Angeles) though, because at least that way it would mean a discount on a weekly movie, with lots of weekly movies to choose from. At AMC, it's unlikely that I'd find something I wanted to see every single weekend, year-round.
posted by Sara C. at 1:47 PM on December 17, 2014


Yeah, I think this plan is more for people like me: single, no children, and usually see about 20+ movies a year. I can also see it adding value if I want to see the LEGO Movie or The Master again and again and again. I'm not a teenager either.

If it allows month to month, I will definitely jump in during the busy summer blockbuster and winter months. On the other hand, if it's an annual thing, I'll say "maybe" and have to check the release schedule for the year and see how many movies I can pick out. I live in Orange County, but also visit friends and family out in LA/LA County at least once a month, so I have a pretty wide range of AMC theaters (20+) to choose from too.

One thing, AMC probably aren't going to include live play performances like the Met Opera HD events, which would be really sweet to include those.
posted by FJT at 1:48 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would be the target demographic when I was single. But for the past 5 years my wife and I are probably averaging a movie every 6 weeks or so, and we haven't paid for a movie in years thanks to various debit/credit points cards.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:53 PM on December 17, 2014


this plan is more for people like me: single, no children, and usually see about 20+ movies a year.

I was wondering how big a market that would be: $30 to $45/mo is beyond reach of most of the teenagers and students I know. And those are middle to upper-middle ones.
posted by bonehead at 1:56 PM on December 17, 2014


bondcliff: "They should start a subscription for parents of young children where you can see one movie a year."

Oooooh, where do I sign up? Can it also be only for oddly-timed movies on Wednesdays when the sitter doesn't have volleyball practice?

I have a cousin who works a high-stress job that often has odd overnight hours (there are often dead bodies) and he basically goes to a movie at the end of every shift to wind down before going home and being a family man. (For some reason I remember vividly when he saw The Phantom Menace 10 times in 10 days, starting opening night.) I would think this would save him a lot of money!

Otherwise, yeah, I think college is when I might possibly have gotten good use out of this. I probably wouldn't have minded seeing the same movie repeatedly and I had a lot of free time and I needed brain breaks sometimes. (But when I was ACTUALLY in college I couldn't possibly have gone to more than one movie a month, so I'm not sure.)

Now that my kids are a little older I sometimes have a free afternoon and I think, "Ooooo, movie, sitting in the dark by myself for two hours!" but then I check the listings and several times the past year there has been NOT ONE THING I had any interest in seeing. Not even to escape my family for some alone time. THAT IS NOT A HIGH BAR, HOLLYWOOD.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:00 PM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh my god, was nobody on this naysaying thread ever a teenager?

I saw fewer movies in theaters as a teen than I do now. But then, I was a nerd who didn't date until my 30s.
posted by Foosnark at 2:07 PM on December 17, 2014


Hmmm...in NY I'm a AAA member, which lets me buy discount coupons to Regal,AMC, Bow Tie and National Amusements. The last time I bought AMC coupons they were $34 for a pack of 4 and don't expire. The local Landmark theater and the Angelika/City Cinema sell discount tickets through their websites: Landmark in books of 25 which don't expire (in NY, the LA Westside Pavilion and Baltimore one has to pay a supplement of $1-2.50). Being a Museum of the Moving Image member gives one discount admission to several local indie houses, some of which have their own membership programs. The only places in NY where I pay full price are the Lincoln Plaza and the Quad. LP used to give MMI discounts, but stopped when the museum was renovating.
posted by brujita at 2:49 PM on December 17, 2014


Movies are fairly obnoxious if you're a teenager, since you either have to worry about what theaters have been bullied by the Moral Majority assholes into carding on R-rated films this week, or stick with PG-13 dreck. People in their late teens don't need to worry about R ratings, but by the time you're 17, most people I knew had a job and less free time than I do now as a grown-ass man.

Anyway, I like the idea of the AYCE subscription model overall, but I think it's priced too high. It needs to be priced about the same as a Netflix subscription. Particularly if—as I suspect—they black out new releases' opening weekends.

For $9.99 a month, even if it had an upcharge of $5 a ticket for the first week a movie ran, I'd definitely be considering it. It seems like that would work for the theaters, since the marginal cost to them of a seat in a theater after the first week's run of a film is basically zero; all they'd need to worry about is cannibalization of their cash-price ticket business with the passes. And I think they'd offset that with the $5 upcharge for new films, which would get people who want to see a film because of the 'buzz' or with friends or whatever, rather than for the film per se.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:57 PM on December 17, 2014


Moviepass is an even worse deal than it seems. It's not one movie per day, it's one movie per 24 hour period. If you go see a 10:00pm film on Friday night, unless there's a particularly late show of the next film you want to see on Saturday, you're not going to be able to see another film the next day.
posted by eschatfische at 3:19 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Particularly if—as I suspect—they black out new releases' opening weekends.

Nope, no blackouts.

Moviepass is an even worse deal than it seems.

How is it a bad deal? Even if you only use Moviepass to see one movie every week (your hypothetical 10 p.m. Friday screening) you've still saved money over buying individual tickets. If you do manage to squeeze in a midnight movie on Saturday or a Sunday matinee — or even a screening on a weeknight — then you come out even farther ahead.
posted by Mothlight at 4:07 PM on December 17, 2014


When I was a teenager it was easy to go see movies all the time because none of us were working crazy hours and it was the fun thing to do before college happened and partying was the fun thing to do. Now that I'm 25 going to the movies is a rare event that you do with either a close friend or your partner. I use to go to the movies with a group of 10 or so people, now none of my friends do that because of our varying work schedules. We'll go see movies separately and then talk about them at the bar or a party later.

The latest movie I saw was Guardians of the Galaxy, maybe 2 weeks ago. I saw it at a dollar theater with great seats, a large screen and awesome sound. Otherwise I go see movies at the second run theater, which now actually is doing first run movies for $5, and I can drink beer in it! The last time I went to see a movie in a Regal or AMC theater was when I had gotten paid, called out of work, grabbed my girlfriend at the time and went to see X-Men Days of Future Past and Godzilla in the same day. Good times.
posted by gucci mane at 4:09 PM on December 17, 2014


There may not be *that* many good movies that I'd want to see, but a subscription will allow me to watch movies that I do want to see multiple times in the cinema.
posted by applesurf at 4:33 PM on December 17, 2014


$30-45 a month is a good starting offer, but they're going to have to pay me more than that to get me back in theaters. I've gone to a theater twice in the last three years, and I'm looking forward to cutting back on my attendance in the future. It's just a terrible value when the substitute, watching films in the comfort and privacy of my own home, is so much better.

I miss living in Portland. Theater pubs aplenty, and far better value. Theaters: cut your prices 75%, rip out half your seats, put in tables, serve pub food and beer. Then we'll talk.
posted by mullingitover at 4:45 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would go almost every day if my local theater did this. I like seeing movies in the theater instead of at home. Even bad ones. Even repeatedly.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:48 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would not set foot in an AMC theatre if it were free. They could pay me to do so, but it would probably take something like a C-note per film.

Want me to go to the movies? Simple formula:

1) Show movies that aren't shite.

2) Someone making noise (other than the momentary, involuntary, unpreventable sort)? Bounce them.

3) Someone using an electronic device that lights up? Bounce them *hard*.

4) Don't admit kids.

5) Don't admit Anil Dash.

The Alamo gets (1) sometimes, (2) and (3) pretty well, (4) kinda and the jury is out on (5). But they have decent beer on draft, so I'll forgive them until something better comes along.
posted by sourcequench at 5:15 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would go almost every day if my local theater did this.

Pssssssst.

And, Sourcequench, you can use Moviepass at the Alamo Drafthouse.

Folks, this exists right now. Just sayin.
posted by Mothlight at 5:34 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I go to the cineplex for blockbusters and not much else. It's simply not worth it to deal with the high prices, insulting "pre-show" advertising, bored staff, and inedible concessions.
Luckily, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area where there are many great independent and revival/rep/art-house theaters.

The New Parkway
The Paramount
The Grand Lake
The California
The Piedmont
The Elmwood
Opera Plaza
The 4-Star, Presidio, and Marina
The Castro
posted by ...possums at 5:45 PM on December 17, 2014


My retirement plan is to see "all the movies" so I might be into this at that point (provided that theaters still exist in 2029)
posted by octothorpe at 5:48 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


How is it a bad deal? Even if you only use Moviepass to see one movie every week (your hypothetical 10 p.m. Friday screening) you've still saved money over buying individual tickets.

Most chains offer ticket packs (2 or 4 tickets) that cost $7-8 per ticket for 2D films, even new releases, and that are good indefinitely - and many still offer 2D matinees that are in that price without any prior investment. If you're only seeing one 2D movie a week, you're almost definitely better off using the ticket packs or going to matinees than using MoviePass. It really only becomes a deal if you consistently see 6 or more 2D movies a month consistently.

That's 72 movies a year spaced out to avoid the 24 hour limit and only at participating theaters, where you have to fumble around with a Discover card and the Moviepass mobile app. I consider myself a big movie buff who loves the theatrical experience, and often have seen more than 70 first run films a year, but I'd have a really hard time saving money with MoviePass.
posted by eschatfische at 6:23 PM on December 17, 2014


I think it's pretty unrealistic to expect there to be a large corporate mega-chain of movie theaters that don't admit children as a matter of policy. No small children in screenings after 10pm, maybe. No children in films with ratings above PG-13? Sure. But yeah, dude, movie theaters are a kid friendly place and I think that's to be expected.
posted by Sara C. at 6:29 PM on December 17, 2014


> I think it's pretty unrealistic to expect there to be a large corporate mega-chain
> of movie theaters that don't admit children as a matter of policy.

Agreed. However, you'll note that I did not list "large corporate mega-chain" among my list of requirements.

Much as with dining out, there are lots of personal and socio-economic benefits to going to the movies with the little guys rather than the big chains.
posted by sourcequench at 6:51 PM on December 17, 2014


you could buy one for each of your kids during the summer months, and voila! no babysitting expenses!
posted by small_ruminant at 9:23 PM on December 17, 2014


I used to go to the movies all the time, but now I only go to special events. Ticket prices have gone up, but not by that much, and the quality of new releases hasn't really declined.

I'm not going to become a regular cinemagoer again until they hire more staff and give them the authority to throw out Audiences Behaving Badly. I just haven't got time or patience for those hooligans anymore.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:56 PM on December 17, 2014


Has nobody decided that it feels cheaper to hop a flight to say the philippines and pay 1/3 of the ticket price AND btw, phillipines. Or other countries that don't gauge customers. Where is the value
posted by valhallan at 11:15 PM on December 17, 2014


I'm sort of surprised to see so many people here talk about bad audiences. I can't remember the last time I went to a movie where a single person, much less a group of people, did something bad enough that I noticed. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I simply can't think of any moment of my life where there's been a bad audience. The worst thing that's happened to me in a movie theater is my then-girlfriend opened her phone to look at a text and I told her to put it away because it's bothersome and I know it bothers others.

This anecdote comprises of my experiences in both Portland and my times in the terrible suburbs of Phoenix, AZ, where I'd totally, 100% expect to have shitty audiences.
posted by gucci mane at 12:26 AM on December 18, 2014


gucci: that's the best argument I've ever heard for moving to the suburbs of Phoenix.
posted by el io at 12:58 AM on December 18, 2014


I'm pretty sure that someone has been either texting or talking loudly in 2/3 of the movies that I've been to over the last few years.
posted by octothorpe at 5:04 AM on December 18, 2014


There are a bunch of things that I wish were sold as subscription services (or at least in packs of ten, to use as you need them), including commuter flights and grocery deliveries, but they seem to be setting this oddly high. What is the chance of wanting to see a movie every day?

I go to movies very seldom these days. I have three streaming services and Netflix DVDs, a large high definition TV, I control the volume, and I can provide good food. The last few times I have been the theater the volume was always set wrong -- either crazy loud or weirdly low and mumbly -- plus I seem to have an ability to always sit near the talking people. It's just not nearly as nice of an experience as it is at home. However, I'm now in a place with a couple of brewpub/movie theater locations, and that is a much more attractive package for me -- I could happily go to one of those every week, whereas I doubt I'll ever go to the multiplex that is less than a mile away.

So I could see this as a good model for an arthouse or beer/movie place, but not for a regular theater chain. I'll be curious if it works, though.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:13 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Most chains offer ticket packs (2 or 4 tickets) that cost $7-8 per ticket for 2D films, even new releases, and that are good indefinitely ...

Hm, OK. I hadn't considered that. Definitely changes the equation. But if I have to buy these tickets in advance, then I end up keeping tickets on hand for AMC, Regal, and the Alamo, which are the chains where I see most of my mainstream new releases. So I'm juggling my funds to buy those tickets in advance, trying to figure out where I'm most likely to be seeing movies. If only there were some kind of subscription service that would give me a similar effective discount at all of them without requiring me to do all the work in advance ...

Anyway, I'm assuming those discount passes aren't offered at New York venues like the IFC Center, BAM Rose, the Angelika, the Quad, and the Film Society at Lincoln Center, where I can use the Moviepass card. And if they are available, buying them for all those different venues seems like a logistical challenge.

I agree that the app/Discover card system for buying tickets is too clunky. Sometimes the Alamo's showtimes aren't listed and a phone call is required to authorize the card. Pain in the ass. But in months like November and December, when I develop a two- or three-movie-a-week habit just to keep up with Oscar-season releases, Moviepass is pretty much undeniably a great deal for me, reducing my per-ticket cost to less than $5. You're in San Francisco and, judging from their website, their theatrical coverage is a lot spottier there. If it's easy to get $8 tickets at the major chains, then the value of Moviepass depends on whether you patronize indie theaters that are covered but don't offer similar discounts.
posted by Mothlight at 5:41 AM on December 18, 2014


I think the decline in ticket sales is not mainly due to the availability of films through Netflix and the like, but rather due to the advances in home cinema.

It's a combination of things. Certainly, the home cinema you mention is one of them (though, most people don't have a genuine "home cinema" setup. At best, it's a large screen and, maybe, a couple of front speakers.)

IMHO, the primary reason for the decline in ticket sales is a combination of high prices and the way the theater experience has become depressingly shitty. Even if you don't have a home cinema setup, it's still a far better (and more affordable) experience to watch a movie at home, especially considering most of the big movies these days, even though they tend to be CG spectaculars, really don't need to be seen on a big screen.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:28 AM on December 18, 2014


BAM, IFC and Filmlinc have memberships.
posted by brujita at 7:15 AM on December 18, 2014


I actually go to movies to get out of the house, a lot, actively choosing it over my "home theater experience." There are a lot of days where I'm going to be in a much better mental state if I'm wearing real clothing and upright and ambulatory and breathing fresh air in public versus laying comatose on my bed alone, moving only enough to click CONTINUE PLAYING on endless episodes of Gilmore Girls.

I like it because it's a nice treat for bad mental health days that doesn't actually require me to have a ton of social interaction I can't handle. And the audience for a weeknight showing of a 1968 black and white Nagisa Oshima film in subtitled Japanese (for example) at the Siskel Center is like, me, two other dudes, and the tallboy I snuck in.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:14 AM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Re bad audiences, I've noticed a few people in this thread saying that they only ever see movies in theaters for "big events", which probably contributes to why they feel so inconvenienced by bad audience behavior.

If I'm going to a place like AMC, I'm most likely going to go on a random weekend afternoon to see something that isn't brand new. And I almost never experience these problems. Because there's rarely anyone else even in the theater, and generally not rowdy teens, small children, etc.

(Also, I gotta say, the one time I had a bad experience that really took me out of the movie, it was at the Arclight in Hollywood, which is supposed to be the fancypants theater for grownups where they take this stuff seriously and people don't take kids because a ticket is like $20. To be honest I kind of got a thrill out of whipping my head around and hissing "WE'RE TRYING TO WATCH A MOVIE.")
posted by Sara C. at 10:48 AM on December 18, 2014


Brujita - do those memberships actually get you into movies, though? I remember back in the day a few art-house cinemas had "memberships", but it was really just to support the theater. You got a slight discount on tickets, but you still had to pay for them. I think most of the perks of being a "member" were that you got a t-shirt and I think sometimes first dibs on tickets for certain events or screenings.
posted by Sara C. at 10:50 AM on December 18, 2014


The places I listed give discounted tickets, FF has discounts for merchandise and local restaurants, Bam also has discounts for local restaurants and the Greenlight bookstore, IFC has member only screenings,Anthology has occasional free screenings for members, MOMA and MMI screenings are free for members but if you want to buy advance tickets at moma they charge a small fee--the last time I did it was a dollar.
posted by brujita at 1:17 PM on December 18, 2014


MoMA and/or MMI memberships are TOTALLY WORTH IT, I would stress. MoMA especially because art, duh.

I think becoming a member of Film Forum or IFC or the like would mostly just be a vote of support for their overall business model in the form of a check.

BAM might be worth it for the tax deduction? Or maybe there are non-cinema oriented perks like pre-sale tickets for their performance venue?

I personally would not opt to become a "member" of something like AMC or Regal unless the benefits were out of this world amazing, because not only are they not a nonprofit, they're not even a small business or providing any vital service towards humanity in general.
posted by Sara C. at 1:43 PM on December 18, 2014


The main BAM perk for me is the 20% discount at Greenlight. I go to a lot of art house/ revival movies so having memberships pay for themselves .
posted by brujita at 2:03 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


BAM's live performance and movie memberships are separate. Symphony space membership gives discounted tickets for all its events, it also gives discounts to local services.
posted by brujita at 2:07 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sara C., are you planning to remain in LA? KCRW gives tons of perks for members.
posted by brujita at 2:27 PM on December 18, 2014


Every damn time the KCRW membership drive rolls around, I think about joining. They'll get me eventually.

Do they have movie discounts? (She says, trying desperately to bring it back around to the topic of the FPP)
posted by Sara C. at 2:38 PM on December 18, 2014


I know for the Egyptian and Aero....and several indie bookstores. Check their webpage.
posted by brujita at 3:09 PM on December 18, 2014


Re bad audiences, I've noticed a few people in this thread saying that they only ever see movies in theaters for "big events", which probably contributes to why they feel so inconvenienced by bad audience behavior.

If I'm going to a place like AMC, I'm most likely going to go on a random weekend afternoon to see something that isn't brand new. And I almost never experience these problems. Because there's rarely anyone else even in the theater, and generally not rowdy teens, small children, etc.


Only going to "big events" was a response to my experiences with audiences at regular movies. I put up with the bad audiences at regular movies for a long time before I decided that it just wasn't worth it, and I would only put up with them for something really special, like Rifftrax Live or TCM Presents. (Oddly enough, I've had some truly awful experiences with audiences at Live from the Met, so I'm even choosy about which operas are "must-see" enough to deal with them.)

Unfortunately, there isn't a theater in my town that shows movies that aren't brand new, so short of going on a weekday in the early afternoon (when I'm at work), I'm not going to run into a time when there isn't anyone else in the theater. And anymore, teens and small children are far from the only people who feel completely free to do whatever they feel like in the auditorium, knowing that nobody will stop them.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:38 AM on December 19, 2014


None of the theaters in your area show a movie for more than one weekend? Really?
posted by Sara C. at 2:33 PM on December 19, 2014


None of the theaters in your area show a movie for more than one weekend? Really?

I didn't realize we were using the most literal meaning of "brand new" possible. A movie might hang around for a couple of weeks, and that's still new in my book. We only have two theaters - a big commercial chain and an art house.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:54 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


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