RIP MoviePass
September 14, 2019 12:24 PM   Subscribe

As of Saturday September 14, 2019, MoviePass has moviepassed on. The not-quite-all-you-can-watch film screening subscription service shut down at the age of 8, after a long battle with theater chains, competitors, customers, and itself.
posted by Etrigan (64 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Setting fire to huge piles of money never goes out of style with VCs.
posted by benzenedream at 12:28 PM on September 14, 2019 [34 favorites]


Previously:

The Would-Be Comeback Kid

Have we reached Peak MoviePass?

I guess the latter's question has been answered.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:35 PM on September 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


I bought $30 of HMNY shares at 10c thinking that if any major movie chain acquired them I'd make a little bit of scratch. They're worth 30c now. I put it all on 00 and lost.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:37 PM on September 14, 2019 [12 favorites]


Sure, you could think of this as a failed business model, or you could think of it as a few golden years when venture capitalists decided to spend half a billion dollars so that 3 million Americans could go to the movies for pennies. I guess they thought they'd make it up in volume?
posted by gwint at 12:45 PM on September 14, 2019 [25 favorites]


Thank you, MoviePass, for giving me the gift of Rampage.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:48 PM on September 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


I guess they thought they'd make it up in volume?

I think the plan was once they were established and dominant they would negotiate with theaters for cheaper wholesale tickets or the theaters would have to watch their customers being steered away from them.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:52 PM on September 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Moviepass was a weird experience for me where despite being on my phone consuming cultural news at every possible waking second I still didn't manage to hear about it til it was in the news for failing. Made me wonder what else is not coming my way and how does that even happen.
posted by bleep at 12:53 PM on September 14, 2019 [25 favorites]


It was a perfectly fine idea to get people into the theatre and spend money on concessions where the real mark up is , that had no place being out in the hands of private equity pump and dump vampires.

Nationalize Moviepass!
posted by The Whelk at 1:14 PM on September 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


It died as it lived: Completely unprofitable.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:33 PM on September 14, 2019 [14 favorites]


I guess they thought they'd make it up in volume?

I think the plan was once they were established and dominant they would negotiate with theaters for cheaper wholesale tickets or the theaters would have to watch their customers being steered away from them.


They were also planning to harvest data from their users to target advertising (both particular movies and other stuff).
posted by Etrigan at 1:38 PM on September 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Reyturner at 1:40 PM on September 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Man, I loved Moviepass, despite the fact that it could never, ever make money. Now major theater chains have their own localized versions, which are worse deals, but still maybe worth it if you see enough movies a month (mentioned in the article). They always seemed to want to be bought by a national chain, but that never actually materialized, and it was glorious for movie fans in the process. If someone else wants to cut themselves a paycheck by giving regular people a discount on an overpriced service while sucking money out of VC vultures, then please, I've heard healthcare is ripe for disruption.
posted by codacorolla at 1:41 PM on September 14, 2019 [26 favorites]


There is a silver lining as described by Matt Levine:

posted by Pembquist at 1:47 PM on September 14, 2019


I honestly thought they had folded months and months ago. I never used them, I don't go to movies much. They always seemed like a rub the lamp and hope for genie magic sort of company, and I guess for those who got a lot of movies in yay for them.
posted by hippybear at 1:55 PM on September 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


One down, Uber to go.
posted by clawsoon at 2:06 PM on September 14, 2019 [26 favorites]


Why am I not surprised?
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:43 PM on September 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


I first checked out movie pass way back in 2012, when there was an invite-only beta program and it was something like $30/month for unlimited* movies. I ended up canceling after a little while because it didn't support my favorite local theaters. After they unveiled "limited" plans, I re-joined in early 2017 because I was in a market with better coverage and all I needed to do was see 2–3 movies a month and that would save me money with the $15/month rate. In a sense, that was my golden age of MoviePass because it seemed like a good, but not obviously and wildly unsustainable deal.

Then when they got acquired by Helios and Matheson, they changed everyone to the $9.95 unlimited rate and I knew it wouldn't last, but I was fully on-board with making the most of it while it did. In-between jobs, I took a month off and made a point of seeing a movie every single day. Or trying to, at least. 14 films in a month was still a non-festival personal best, including a high points such as Marshall, Battle of the Sexes and A Silent Voice, as well as low points such as Chasing the Dragon and Brad's Status. I was surprised that I never managed to see everything that was in any of my local theaters.

Through all the changes afterward, I continued to make the best of my subscription and hoped that they'd find some way to shift into a sustainable model. Going to theaters in the middle of the day, it was clear a market existed to offer lower-price, even loss-leading tickets to take advantage of customer concessions, but that never appeared to be MoviePass's game. To be honest, it lasted way longer than I ever expected it to, and I'm kind of sad that it's gone, but I am the exact kind of consumer that made it unworkable.

Final tally: $339.87 for 73 films = $4.66/movie

.

* 1 per day/no 3D/IMAX
posted by Cogito at 2:48 PM on September 14, 2019 [17 favorites]


Only one I've seen that beat the local deal ($4.75 tuesdays)!
posted by sammyo at 4:12 PM on September 14, 2019


One down, Uber to go.

WeWork is currently dying a slow, public death as its disastrous IPO approaches, if you need a hit of schadenfreude

Seriously Jim Cramer (the crazy avatar clown of batshit crazy useless greed is good types) just wants the WeWork deal to “go away,” because he’s afraid it will expose the whole market as a sham (or something; he’s a clown)

It’s pretty good venture capitalist schadenfreude, IMO. I mean, it’s not Facebook or Google ripped to shreds while the founders get thrown in jail good, but it’s pretty good.
posted by schadenfrau at 4:14 PM on September 14, 2019 [13 favorites]


I now live in fear of going to my WeWork location only to find chains on the doors, all of my equipment locked inside.
posted by grumpybear69 at 5:30 PM on September 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


☝️ Eponysterical, schadenfrau
posted by Cogito at 5:31 PM on September 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


Now major theater chains have their own localized versions, which are worse deals, but still maybe worth it if you see enough movies a month

If you happen to live close to an AMC Dine-In, which I do, the break even is 1 movie a month!

The monthly cost of their "A-List", which allows 3 movies a week at any AMC, is the same as one ticket to the fancy ass dine-in. And given how nice it is to watch movies at my house, it's pretty much the only way I want to see movies elsewhere anyway.

Now if they can only figure out how to integrate bathroom breaks.
posted by flaterik at 5:56 PM on September 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


Man, remember when businesses raised capital to buy inventory and then sold that inventory at a profit, to fund purchases of additional inventory? Wild.
posted by Automocar at 6:54 PM on September 14, 2019 [26 favorites]


I got to see the remastered SUSPIRIA on the big screen for free with a live talk by an Italian film scholar and giallo expert so I feel my zero dollars were well spent.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:12 PM on September 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Made me wonder what else is not coming my way and how does that even happen.
posted by bleep


The way journalism has been liquidating thousands and thousands of reporters, in order to maintain extreme profitability, I'm surprised any of us knows anything anymore
posted by eustatic at 7:29 PM on September 14, 2019 [9 favorites]


But screen Junkies had a segment on their YouTube show every time Entertainment Weekly publishes a story that's how I knew about moviepass's "director of barketing"
posted by eustatic at 7:32 PM on September 14, 2019


I'm in Canada. We don't have Moviepass here, but watching from across the border has taught me one thing: people love to watch movies and they'd watch a lot more if they weren't so goddamn expensive.

I reckon if they lowered their prices 25% they'd sell 45% more tickets.
posted by dobbs at 8:10 PM on September 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


gwint: " I guess they thought they'd make it up in volume?"

Beat me to it!
posted by Chrysostom at 8:17 PM on September 14, 2019


In 1977 when Star Wars came out, the price of a movie ticket in my hometown (I was 9) for a child ticket was 50 cents.

When I graduated high school in 1986 it was maybe $3 for an adult (over 12 or 13 or something) ticket.

Movie tickets are really expensive today compared to "back in the day". The idea of seeing a movie several times in a week wasn't unreasonable because tickets were so cheap. Today, you go to the movies once, that's your budget shot.

There were many films back in the 80s I saw 3 or 4 or more times in a week in the theater. That basically hasn't happened in decades, with rising ticket costs. These days, truly never. No matter how they do their reserved reclining chair seating. One ticket today is 6 tickets when I was a teenager.
posted by hippybear at 8:23 PM on September 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


When I graduated high school in 1986 it was maybe $3 for an adult (over 12 or 13 or something) ticket. Movie tickets are really expensive today compared to "back in the day".

According to Box Office Mojo, the average movie ticket price in 1986 was $3.71. Adjusted for inflation that would be $8.68 today. Actual average ticket price in 2019 is $9.01. This means that ticket prices are only 3% higher than they were in 1986 in real dollars.

I think this falls into the category of remembering "back in the day" walking three miles to school in the snow, up hill - both ways.
posted by JackFlash at 9:05 PM on September 14, 2019 [16 favorites]


And what's even wilder is that the cinema itself makes next to nothing on ticket sales. That's why they charge so much for concessions, and why it's all big chains now.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:48 PM on September 14, 2019


I've talked to people in the theater business years ago who basically said "I have no idea what they think they're doing, and don't really care. They're buying our tickets at a loss. Good luck with that"

One of the really strange things about living in 2019, among many, is that no one seems to remember doing all this stupid tech bubble shit 20 years ago.
posted by bongo_x at 2:34 AM on September 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


Blowing VC money is fun! Of course we're going to do it again.
posted by ryanrs at 3:00 AM on September 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


According to Box Office Mojo, the average movie ticket price in 1986 was $3.71. Adjusted for inflation that would be $8.68 today. Actual average ticket price in 2019 is $9.01. This means that ticket prices are only 3% higher than they were in 1986 in real dollars.

Look, all I know is that "back in the day", I felt absolutely nothing about paying for a movie several times a week because it didn't feel like a burden, either financially or psychologically. I haven't gone to see the same movie twice in years and years because every time I go to a movie it feels like a pretty big financial hit.

Ticket prices here stand at $12-15. I don't know where that $9 figure comes into play, but there is no movie theater in the area where I live where $9 will get you in to a show.
posted by hippybear at 3:06 AM on September 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm surprised any of us knows anything anymore
I'm not surprised, but that's because I question the premise of your subordinate clause.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 4:18 AM on September 15, 2019


Ticket prices here stand at $12-15. I don't know where that $9 figure comes into play, but there is no movie theater in the area where I live where $9 will get you in to a show.

It's an average of all tickets. Once you account for free tickets, rural places with lower ticket prices, Tuesdays (which are the most attended night of the week outside Friday and Saturday) they all drag the average ticket price back down to $9.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:29 AM on September 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


One of the really strange things about living in 2019, among many, is that no one seems to remember doing all this stupid tech bubble shit 20 years ago.

I worked in the original tech bubble. Webvan and Pets.com are used to mock Bubble 1.0 but it turns out online grocery shopping and shipping dog food are perfectly viable business ideas. They were just poorly executed back then.

Moviepass and Juicero were doomed to fail even the execution was perfect.
posted by COD at 6:58 AM on September 15, 2019 [14 favorites]


my heart can only take so much; i only just got over flooz
posted by entropicamericana at 7:17 AM on September 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


Look, all I know is that "back in the day", I felt absolutely nothing about paying for a movie several times a week because it didn't feel like a burden, either financially or psychologically.

It's probably because of how your disposable/discretionary income has gone down. As a babysitting teenager in 1984, I had a higher amount of money for entertainment than I have in my budget line now. To really oversimplify this, let's say that I had $50/week spending money, of which I saved half = $25/week of spending money or $100/month. In adjusted dollars, that's about $246 of spending money. My husband's and my entertainment budget right now,* for just us, is about $100 month in current dollars. So yeah, a movie ticket is a much bigger investment.

* Does not include tech costs, does include subscription costs. We are in a saving mode right now. :)
posted by warriorqueen at 7:46 AM on September 15, 2019 [10 favorites]


Once you account for free tickets, rural places with lower ticket prices, Tuesdays (which are the most attended night of the week outside Friday and Saturday) they all drag the average ticket price back down to $9.

Tuesday night discounts don't happen around here, and I'm obviously not going to drive 100 miles to see a movie for cheaper, and free tickets? Where does one get those?

I go buy a movie ticket, it isn't anywhere close to this mythical $9. The local retail market is $12-15. All those other things don't really matter when it comes to what I actually pay when I go to a movie.
posted by hippybear at 8:03 AM on September 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


I'm happy that I have a MoviePass credit card. It's been sitting on the bookshelf next to my Pets.com sock puppet and signed copy of F'd Companies.
posted by Revvy at 10:13 AM on September 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


I built some software for them in 2013. Never got paid... Good riddance!
posted by carlodio at 10:37 AM on September 15, 2019 [8 favorites]


I go buy a movie ticket, it isn't anywhere close to this mythical $9. The local retail market is $12-15. All those other things don't really matter when it comes to what I actually pay when I go to a movie.

It's not supposed to be. It's an average. It's like complaining the average age of a human being is 32 while you're 55 and that it's not your experience.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:45 AM on September 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


Yes, but it's being offered up in this discussion as if it's a real thing a person would pay to go see a movie.

Averages are only useful when one experiences them in real life. This discussion is about paying for movies. This average has nothing to do with real world experience, and should be set aside because it isn't what anyone experiences.
posted by hippybear at 11:34 AM on September 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


it isn't what anyone experiences.

It's not what you experience. The theater that I go to the most often charges at most $6.50 for an adult ticket. I just found out that, as someone over 50, I can go for $4.50 at any time.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:02 PM on September 15, 2019 [10 favorites]


Well, huzzah for your location physical place accompanied with your age!

All my first run theaters around here are at least 15 miles from my driveway and none of them are that cheap.

I hope you see a lot of movies first-run because you are living in a magical place.
posted by hippybear at 1:52 PM on September 15, 2019


My son was living in Portland for two years during peak MoviePass. Apparently it worked at a lot of art houses and he saw quite a few amazing movies during that period. The closest indie and art house is 42 miles from us, unless we want to go to BYU's International Cinema, which has some great movies but cuts out the naughty bits. I saw Children of Men there. It's free. Don't judge me.
posted by mecran01 at 2:02 PM on September 15, 2019


you are living in a magical place.

Peoria, actually. There are places around here that charge more--the newer places, unsurprisingly, and the ones with IMAX-size screens. And I don't go to see as many movies as I used to, both because of the endless ads (not just trailers but ads for shit that I couldn't care less about) and because of the ongoing decay of behavior in public places (someone brought a small child to IT Part II, and they behaved as you'd expect a small child to when confronted by a demonic clown on the screen). But, hey, it's not bad. I guess that they make their money by doing ticket sales at the concession counter, which makes getting overpriced treats more tempting.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:13 PM on September 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


You all heard it here, folks. Peoria is a magical place.
posted by hippybear at 3:36 PM on September 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


they make their money by doing ticket sales at the concession counter, which makes getting overpriced treats more tempting.

Oh of course! I’d wondered why the big corporate theatres near me seemed to have shut down their ticket booths / service counters.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 4:41 PM on September 15, 2019


Oh of course! I’d wondered why the big corporate theatres near me seemed to have shut down their ticket booths / service counters.

As with every cutback and reduction in service with no change in price, it is "to serve you better."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:08 PM on September 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


“Math isn’t real” is kind of a weird place for this thread to end up. That being said, median ticket price might be more useful information if we had it—meaning half of all tickets sold for more than X price, half for lower.

For all the complaints about price in the thread, I have the (anecdotal) sense that luxury theaters charging premium prices are the hot segment in the industry.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:01 AM on September 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


I think that’s right - because the home viewing experience has gotten so much better (on demand movies, better TVs, surround sound, HD, bathroom breaks), the luxury theater experience is the only thing that might drag people out of their homes. Also, the rise of peak TV and endless franchises/ sequels makes regular movie going less common I believe.

If I didn’t have small children I would have loved movie pass. Watching 2-3 movies in a theater is just not imaginable right now. Not to mention, are there 2-3 movies out a month I would want to watch? Not sure.
posted by rainydayfilms at 4:12 AM on September 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


For all the complaints about price in the thread, I have the (anecdotal) sense that luxury theaters charging premium prices are the hot segment in the industry.

Really? I only know iPic Entertainment, and they filed for bankruptcy last month. Who else is doing this — Arclight? I’m not familiar with them since they’re basically a West Coast outfit.
posted by Mothlight at 5:50 AM on September 16, 2019


Who else is doing this

AMC has their dinner theater movie houses where tickets are something like $25 and then you also get to pay for food and drinks.
posted by hippybear at 6:21 AM on September 16, 2019


MoviePass will be a movie in the vein of the Big Short someday. The shady fucking shit pulled by Farnsworth their huckster CEO is astounding. I don't have time to pull up articles but they absolutely changed heavy users PWs, turned their site off sometimes, had absolutely no money a lot, started making people sign up with ACH so they couldn't chargeback/cancel when the service didn't work... etc.

Lied to so many investors.

It was an utter treehouse fire. If you'd invested $10milllion around October 2017, around 6-7 months later it would've been worth less than a burrito. I *almost* bought in at 0.34 cents. For a bit.

Then it dropped to 0.08, but THEN they did the 250:1 reverse split and it went up to $20-22 I forget. Then halved value EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. until it was at 0.02 post split. I would've lost it all even investing at 34 freakin' cents. And that took like ONE MONTH! It was beyond valueless.

But. I saw so many movies on it and had lots of wonderful memories. So yeah.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:54 AM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Really? I only know iPic Entertainment, and they filed for bankruptcy last month. Who else is doing this — Arclight? I’m not familiar with them since they’re basically a West Coast outfit.

Drafthouse cinema is rapidly expanding out here (DC), as well.
posted by mosst at 8:03 AM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also, hippybear, if you have an AMC in your area, then they definitely offer discounted Tuesday tickets and a fairly reasonably-priced subscription plan that could take movies into that mythical $9 range.

I do enjoy my AMC A-List subscription, mostly because our local AMC Dolby theater is seriously amazing but also $20+/ticket. Absurd, but fun to experience as part of my $21/month subscription. If Landmark Theaters offered a similar subscription program, though, I'd definitely prefer that.
posted by mosst at 8:16 AM on September 16, 2019


I don't live in Peoria, or whatever strange place hippybear does that's somehow paying big-city prices but also many, many miles away from anything good. In Dallas, most theaters are indeed the fancy kind, from Alamo Drafthouse to LOOK to a new AMC with a decent bar to a remodeled Cinemark with a pretty cool 3-D VR experience (right next to corporate HQ!). Alamo Drafthouse tickets are $10, and probably my favorite experience just because they take movies very seriously. It's possible to get cheaper tickets, but then I have to attend a theater like the one I went to as a kid, and I'd rather stay home than do that! There are dollar theaters too, but again, not really appealing for probably any adult. As a kid, the big screen and time away from home was magical. Now, time at home is more private than time out, so some of the magic is gone.

I was briefly a MoviePass subscriber back in the $40/month days, and saw many, many more movies than I would have without it, and learned to enjoy movies by myself post-divorce, so I thank them for that. I was again briefly a MoviePass subscriber when they started to set VC money afire, and it didn't fit my lifestyle as well then, even without weird app issues.

Cheers to MoviePass, RIPieces.
posted by pwinn at 8:22 AM on September 16, 2019


The Byrd theater in Richmond charges $4 - not first run but I'm happy to wait 2 month for most movies. And you get to watch it in an old movie palace that was there when talkies were the new cool thing.

And the 730 PM Sat shows replaces the ads and previews with a 15 minute Wurlitzer organ performance. The same organ they installed back when they needed it to accompany silent movies.

That my friends, is magical.
posted by COD at 4:40 PM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


I go buy a movie ticket, it isn't anywhere close to this mythical $9. The local retail market is $12-15. All those other things don't really matter when it comes to what I actually pay when I go to a movie.

It's not supposed to be. It's an average. It's like complaining the average age of a human being is 32 while you're 55 and that it's not your experience.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:45 PM on September 15 [6 favorites +] [!]


Yes, but it's being offered up in this discussion as if it's a real thing a person would pay to go see a movie.

Averages are only useful when one experiences them in real life. This discussion is about paying for movies. This average has nothing to do with real world experience, and should be set aside because it isn't what anyone experiences.
posted by hippybear at 1:34 PM on September 15 [3 favorites +] [!]


My nearest movie theater is about 10 minutes away. Ticket price is $5 for first run movies. That is the price you would pay on a Saturday night. This is within 30 miles of Houston. My nearest "Alamo Drafthouse" type experience is (I just found out) about the same $5 if you go before 6 p.m. It is $11 during peak times.

These are real prices people would pay to go see a movie. That your experience is different does not mean these prices don't exist or are not close to about right. I can get a dozen oysters for $13 or less. I would pay considerably more if I was in Chicago. Yet, the price I pay is my real world experience.

Having said all that, MoviePass was definitely a no-go for me, as the price of movie tickets in the area is low enough that MoviePass would have cost me more on average. (I would also feel inclined to sacrifice other outings to make sure I got my money's worth.) In your instance, I could see how it would be worthwhile.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 6:23 PM on September 16, 2019


Flix Brewhouse is another Alamo clone that is popular in the Midwest. I'm not sure how well they're doing, but superhero movies tended to be sold out on weekends, and even mid-week showings of artier stuff had decent numbers.
posted by codacorolla at 8:11 PM on September 16, 2019


Not to mention, are there 2-3 movies out a month I would want to watch? Not sure.

I had access to, for a couple years three decades ago, a two person get into any movie pass (literally any movie - none of that limited times/titles stuff). It only worked at one fo the two chains in town so essentially our (me and the to be Mrs. Mitheral) selection was half the released titles. We saw practically everything that was available at that theatre with no repeats. It's amazing how many movies a person might not think they'll enjoy but would be worth $5 (the going rate at the time) once you have seen it.

IE: being able to see (a subset of) everything for little to no monthly cost completely changes your viewing habit and you end up seeing both good movies you'd never give a second thought to and movies that were ... not good.

We have that sort of access now at home but I find there are too many distractions at home to really get into a movie the way you do at a theatre.
posted by Mitheral at 8:47 PM on September 22, 2019


I now live in fear of going to my WeWork location only to find chains on the doors, all of my equipment locked inside.

Wow. I thought that was a joke.
posted by rdr at 9:43 AM on September 28, 2019


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