June 26, 2018

A Review of MoviePass: ‘Unlimited’ Movie Tickets for $9.95 a Month

MoviePass is a Manhattan-based company that offers a new way to pay for movies.

For $9.95 a month, MoviePass gives its customers the ability to see up to one movie per day, every day, in select theaters across the United States (over 91%, according to the company’s website). The rule is that it’s 2D movies only (so no 3D or other frills) and you can’t do repeat showings of the same movie, but still, that’s one movie ticket a day.

I’ve been using the pass for the last two months in Boston, and what follows is my personal experience with the company as a paying customer.

Going to the Movies

To start, I signed up on the company’s website. As per the agreement, it would charge the first $9.95 immediately, but my first month would not start until I activated the “MoviePass card” required to buy tickets. It took about a week for said card to show up, and it’s essentially a modified debit card that you use to purchase tickets at the theater.

In other words, yes, the “secret” of the card is that MoviePass pays for every single movie you see out of its own pocket. This is likely the reason why an overwhelming number of theaters take MoviePass; there is no partnership where the theaters could lose money. As someone who regularly pays $14 for a movie ticket, I save just by going to one showing per month.

I’ve used my MoviePass for six films so far: Isle of Dogs, A Quiet Place, Deadpool 2, Solo, Ocean’s 8, and Incredibles 2. I’ve also used it in three theaters: a Regal in Fenway, an AMC in Downtown Boston, and a small independent theater in Rhode Island.

It worked at all three, and I’ve noticed that theater selection is, as they promise, quite good. Barring a small theater in Brookline, MA and a luxury theater in Boston’s Seaport District, every theater I regularly go to has MoviePass compatibility.

When I decide to go to the movies, I show up to the theater, pull out the MoviePass mobile app (available on iOS and Android), and choose a theater from the list. It’s location-based, and generally requires that you be close to a theater in order to buy a ticket.

I then pick a movie and showtime, and the app “checks me in” and temporarily activates the card. I can then use my MoviePass card to buy the ticket, which I have done all but one time at a self-service kiosk (when I did it in person, the clerk didn’t seem to mind). If a showtime is sold out, you can easily cancel the check-in and choose another. To date, I have had zero issues. I’ve held my end of the bargain and, so far, they’ve held theirs.

If you’re looking for a “catch,” I’ve found two.

For one, it’s a slight pain to use your MoviePass when you’re going to the movies with someone else. When I went to see Ocean’s 8 with my girlfriend, we had to buy tickets and pick seats next to each other in two separate transactions (because MoviePass is good for exactly one ticket per day). A bit of a hassle, but that feels like one of those problems with no easy solution (though they are working on one).

The other catch is that, at least for me as a selected “beta user,” I now have to take a picture of my ticket stub before I can purchase another ticket through MoviePass. Should I fail to do so multiple times, the app reminded me that it could close my account. I lost my first ticket stub, wrote an apology in the in-app “please explain” form, and got a small warning.

This is very annoying. That said, if people are exploiting the card and treating it like free money, this seems like a necessary short-term solution until they can come up with something better. Frustrating-but-understandable, I’d say.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that the service is starting to get more and more competition. Sinemia offers plans ranging from $4.99 to $14.99, for between one and three tickets per month. AMC, meanwhile, just announced AMC Stubs A-List. Starting on June 26, the new service allows users to see three movies a week in any AMC theater for $19.95 per month.

Neither of these deals are as good as MoviePass’ $9.95 plan, but there are advantages. Sinemia and AMC both have fewer restrictions on which movie formats you can see, for instance. AMC also offers extra perks, including complimentary access to their Stubs Premiere benefits (10% back on concession purchases, complimentary size upgrades on popcorn and fountain drinks, and more). As a consumer, MoviePass is the best deal, but down the line I wonder whether the Sinemia and AMC Stubs offerings will prove to be more sustainable from a business standpoint.

Closing Thoughts

Barring inconveniences, my review of the service is a glowing one. I’ve saved north of $70 going to the movies in two months, I’m going to the theater more, and I’m buying more concessions.

I have high hopes for the future of this kind of moviegoing-as-a-service business model because, based on my experience alone, I truly believe that MoviePass has the potential to set the standard for years to come. Highly recommended.

Alexander Culafi is a Staff Writer for VentureFizz. You can follow him on Twitter @culafia