A eulogy for MoviePass

While a beautiful thing, MoviePass was doomed from the start.

Summer is a great time to relax and hang out with friends and loved ones. A great staple of the summer is going out to see the lineup of blockbusters. Over the break, I was given the opportunity to use a service called MoviePass. For those unfamiliar, MoviePass is a service in which you paid a flat fee and were able to see movies. It originally functioned somewhat like Netflix. You received a MoviePass card, picked your show and showtime and paid with your MoviePass card. It seemed like the next step when it came to movie watching.

A friend of mine was out of the country for a period this summer and let me use their MoviePass account. I was told that with MoviePass I could see any movie in theaters and the only charge was a monthly fee of $9.99. I initially had two thoughts. 1: $10 a month to see any movie — this is crazy! And 2: How in the world are they making any money? Most movie tickets nowadays tend to cost around $10–$15 during primetime showings. My gut and simple math told me this whole operation was fishy and that I should probably not use it. The other half was excited at the notion of seeing blockbusters for free. With an initial limit of one movie per day, I was content. A friend and I would go see movies weekly, and I saw some movies this summer that I never would have had the chance to see otherwise.

Sadly, but to no one’s surprise, the value of this service from the start meant that its writing was on the wall. The red flags started off small. Instead of seeing any movie an unlimited amount of times, you were only allowed to see a movie once with MoviePass. If you wanted to see a movie again, you couldn’t, which was a bummer for repeat viewings of movies, but never affected me too much. Then it was having to take pictures of ticket stubs. The largest sign of the company’s downfall, though, was the introduction of surge pricing. Say a movie was going to be popular to see — MoviePass would then charge an extra fee on top of your subscription for the sale of a ticket. It was a last-ditch effort in my eyes to try and save a company that was bleeding green.

Disaster struck in late July when my friend was going to see the new “Mission: Impossible” movie and told me MoviePass ran out of money. I was initially shocked but ultimately not surprised. “Mission Impossible: Fallout” was almost Impossible (see what I did there?) to see during its release weekend. This was the final nail in the coffin for many people. Most users jumped ship at that point. MoviePass’s stock began to crash, and MoviePass suffered huge losses. They’ve tweaked their program so now you can only see three shows in one month for $9.99, which is almost laughable when you put it next to their initial prospect.

MoviePass was fun while it lasted. I got to see movies I had no plans on seeing because it was somewhat free. Some movies surprised me and some disappointed, but they were experiences nonetheless. Some of my more memorable movie experiences over the summer include seeing “Solo” (an actually decent Star Wars story), “Ocean’s Eight” (though filled with problems, it wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be) and “Sorry to Bother You” (still one of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen — if you ever plan to see it, go in uninformed and with an open mind). This movie was cool, woke, and crazy. In that order.

MoviePass was great, and it’s a shame they couldn’t keep up with their deals. I am sure in the future there will be more paid services that will seek to imitate what MoviePass offered. AMC Theaters has already created its own MoviePass-like subscription program, which gives the user access to any of their movies for a flat monthly fee. If anything, MoviePass will probably be remembered as the failure that inspired many other services for movies. The future of moviegoing could be somewhat based on MoviePass’s original model. Only time will tell at this point.

Post Author: Jourdon White