A new subscription service called MoviePass, which would allow users to watch an unlimited number of films in movie theaters for $50 a month, was announced earlier this week, borrowing heavily from the model used by Netflix. A beta version of the service was set to be tested in 21 San Francisco-area theaters this weekend, but after two major chains refused to play along, the test run was scrapped. Considering a ticket to see Transformers this weekend could set you back $15, the industry was optimistic that MoviePass might woo cost-conscious fans to theaters. But now that MoviePass is already hitting a snag, will we ever get a subscription service for unlimited visits to the cineplex?
There's still a market for MoviePass: "It's like Netflix, but for the real, real life," says Casey Chan at Gizmodo. MoviePass was wise to offer a "lite" version of the service, too, as many people don't have time to go to the movies often enough to make the $50 price tag worthwhile. But their alternative four-movies-for-$30 package is perfect for fans who are not "psycho about watching movies." Now if only the theaters would play along...
"Netflix for theaters: MoviePass lets you watch unlimited movies in theaters"
Movie theaters are making a mistake by nixing this: Considering that theaters make most of their money at the concession stand, says Ryan Lawler at GigaOm, MoviePass and its mission to get "more viewers into seats" should be "a welcome addition to their businesses." Some critics had suggested that at $50 a month, MoviePass wouldn't be able to win over enough subscribers. But apparently, theaters thought the "service would be too successful, thus cannibalizing" ticket sales. So maybe MoviePass really is on to something.
"Movie chains pass on MoviePass"
And now MoviePass is "doomed": The failure to get two of the country's largest movie chains on board could be a death knell for the fledgling service, says Aly Semigran at Entertainment Weekly. Especially since "it isn't much of a bargain." The five movies a month you'd have to see in order to break even is certainly a lot. But if the chains have a change of heart, and the price goes down, then "I'm interested."
"Report: MoviePass cancels test run. Is the service already doomed?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- Rise of the machines
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
- The uncomfortable truth in The Giving Tree
- It's time to kill school picture day
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- The man who wasn't there: Obama and the 2014 midterms
Subscribe to the Week