MoviePass' planned return involves feature that would track users' eyeballs

MoviePass
(Image credit: MoviePass / Screenshot)

MoviePass has officially unveiled its slightly Black Mirror-esque plans for a comeback.

The movie subscription service will relaunch this summer, CEO Stacy Spikes announced at an event in New York City Thursday. The service gained widespread attention in 2017 for allowing users to see one movie a day in theaters for an absurdly low monthly fee of $9.95, but this led the company to burn through cash at such a spectacular rate that it was forced to shut down in 2019.

Spikes confirmed MoviePass will return in the summer without revealing what the new price will be, though he said numerous tiers will be offered. He also teased that MoviePass plans to let users watch ads on their phones in exchange for credits that they can put toward tickets. In a demonstration, he showed an ad playing on his phone that paused when it could tell he wasn't looking at the screen using the device's facial detection.

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"What it does is it basically creates a transaction between you and the brand," he said. "If I stopped and I'm not paying attention to it, it actually pauses the content."

The demonstration showed Spikes earned credits for watching this "preshow," which could be put toward a screening of Death on the Nile, and he said users could potentially see movies for free this way. The eyeball-tracking idea, though, was quickly dismissed online as "super creepy."

It surely didn't help that the company lost plenty of trust in the months leading up its shutdown, and it allegedly even changed users' passwords to stop them from seeing movies. Spikes insisted "that's all behind us" but acknowledged the way people were "hurt and disappointed" by MoviePass — at one point summarizing their recent history by showing an image of the Hindenburg disaster.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.