Breaking: MoviePass is somehow still operational, and somehow still hoping for your business—despite running out of money in a spectacular public disaster, trapping many of its customers on a service change rollercoaster I personally suspect may have been subsidized by Slenderman, and becoming the subject of a fraud probe by the New York Attorney General???
We have all seen some shit this year, so much shit that I'd assumed myself immune to genuine surprise, but here we are: MoviePass lives, it has a zany new pricing scheme that's both more expensive and more confusing than ever before, and 2018 has won. We turn now to the gathering storm cloud that is 2019, with MoviePass launching a new plan series in January.
But first, a quick tour through the calamity that left us with the pile of ashes from which MoviePass will now rise. In late July, the ticket subscription service surprised its patrons with widespread outages: Cardholders opened the app to check showtimes at their local theaters, only to find the screen wiped of all listings.
MoviePass initially blamed "technical issues," but the real issue lay with a business model premised on losing money. For $10 per month, subscribers enjoyed the freedom to see one film per day, no restrictions imposed, while MoviePass reimbursed the theaters. Because that's obviously not sustainable, the service ran out of money, and temporarily suspended ticketing until a $5 million bailout from its parent company, Helios and Matheson, arrived.
Still, customers found themselves denied passes, or aggressively upcharged, for movies screened to empty auditoriums. Facing an angry internet mob, the company pivoted again, introducing a new plan unlikely to appeal to anyone: Fewer films for more money. That did not mollify the rioting masses, so MoviePass tried again: What about $9.95 per month, for access to three films, new releases and banner titles excluded? Those parameters left moviegoers with pretty much one option—Slenderman, a flick no one wanted to see but which MoviePass hyped heavily—and many of those who hadn't yet jumped ship allowed themselves to fall limply overboard.
"We have a lot to prove to all our constituents," MoviePass chairman Mitch Lowe told Variety, in a laughable understatement. "We don't just have to prove ourselves to our members, we also have to prove ourselves to the investment community, our employees, and our partners. We believe we're doing everything that we possibly can to deliver a great service and we're in the process of fixing all the things that went wrong."
How will they prove to the world that they know how to do math and what profit margins are? How will they regain your trust? Let's take a look at The Plan, which is actually three plans that vary in cost depending on where the customer lives.
looking at the new moviepass plans. turns out "no restrictions" actually means "you can only see three movies per month." cool. pic.twitter.com/EU3FMCAuaW
— brendon bigley (@brendonbigley) December 6, 2018
Check out this trio of pricing tiers: Select (the most basic format), All Access (which does not actually gain you access to all possible films, but hold that thought), and Red Carpet (the fanciest of all). No matter which plan you choose, you will be limited to three movies per month. Select customers can't use their cards to secure seats in 3-D screenings, and will be able to choose from a title selection that varies by date and time. All Access members can use their passes to see whatever they want, except for 3-D movies. Red Carpet, meanwhile, affords access to one Imax OR 3-D screening per month, choose wisely.
What you will pay for this limited privilege hinges on your location. In the middle of the country and in more rural pockets, Select plans start at $9.95 per month; in more expensive urban areas, that figure rises to $14.95. All Access, meanwhile, will cost between $14.95 and $19.95, and Red Carpet, between $19.95 and $24.95. A small price to pay for the promise of reliable service?
Here’s the days u never responded on your direct message pic.twitter.com/Fl03PhEpqG
— Vaughn Bruce Taylor (@01Brucetaylor14) December 6, 2018
"We need to be empathetic and think about our members—what it's been like for them to be whiplashed and wake up one day and this is different and now this is different," Khalid Itum, a MoviePass executive vice president, told the NY Times.
Will this latest pricing scam, I mean scheme, solve that problem? I am not prepared to say so, although this time, at least you've had a nice long break between your urgent MoviePass dispatches. And hey, Helios and Matheson reportedly have $6.2 million in cash on-hand, plus about $23.3 million on deposit with credit-card processors, according to Variety. It's also reporting $137.2 million in losses, and again, facing a fraud investigation, but look over here at these shiny new plans! Distract yourself from the probable chaos by escaping into these cleverly contrived twists! This is what going to the movies is all about.