Watching movies is a popular pastime, offering the perfect date night, day out with friends or a way to keep the kids quiet on a rainy day! However, movie theater tickets can become an unaffordable expense if you go frequently, when combined with drinks, popcorn and candy prices, and this can be off-putting. That’s where MoviePass comes in!
What is MoviePass?
MoviePass is a subscription service which offers three movies a month from just $9.95, a price which is more often than not less than the cost of two movie theater tickets! MoviePass is accepted at more than 30,000 movie theaters all over the United States, meaning you aren’t restricted to where can catch a movie. So you can visit all of your favorite theaters or go to see a movie on a day out of town.
MoviePass was founded by Hamett Watt and Stacy Spikes, the latter of whom has an extensive entertainment industry history, serving as a VP for Miramax Films and October Films, as well as Sony Music.
When it began, MoviePass used to offer a movie a day, but after lowering the subscription to under $10, problems related to a huge influx of new customers meant that the terms had to be changed. Under the new terms, to begin with there was only the Select plan available, which allows customers to watch 3 movies a month for $9.95.
However, this was causing customers to leave the service in droves, so MoviePass have changed their service again, as of January this year.
There are now three levels of access which give various different benefits, with the All Access ($15) and Red Carpet ($20) subscriptions giving a bigger choice of movies, as well as 3D and IMAX offerings.
How Does MoviePass Work?
- Head to www.moviepass.com and enter your zip code into one of the three subscription boxes, depending on the type of subscription you think will match your movie-watching requirements best.
- Your MoviePass will come in the form of a debit card which can take up to 10 business days to reach you. You’ll use your MoviePass card like a normal debit card when you go to buy your ticket.
- Head to the theater you want to watch the movie in, open the MoviePass app on your phone and check in. You’ll then have 30 minutes to go and buy your ticket at the counter. You need to be within 100 yards of the theater in order to check in, so it’s best to time it well and get to the theater just before your movie.
You aren’t able to pre-book movies with your MoviePass, and not all of the subscriptions allow you to watch all movies.
With a Select membership you can use the app to check which movies are available to watch each day (there’ll usually be a good number to choose from), and these will all be standard, 2D showings.
The All Access membership allows customers to watch any movie available at participating theaters, as long as it is in 2D, whilst Red Carpet membership includes 3D and IMAX viewings.
Checking in doesn’t reserve you a seat, it simply releases a credit onto your MoviePass which will be taken as payment at the desk. This means that for popular movies you are advised to get to the theater as early as possible and move fast!
Pros and Cons of MoviePass
Every coin has two sides. Here we look at pros and cons of MoviePass.
For the Select membership, the monthly cost is less than two full priced movie tickets, so as long as you go to the movies more than once a month you are easily saving yourself money.
- No blackout dates
MoviePass can be used during evenings, holidays and weekends, so you can see popular movies at popular times, including release dates! This offers a benefit over other types of cinema pass, and should make it easier for people with children who want to be able to take the kids to do something during peak times like summer holidays and Saturday daytimes.
- Accepted at a range of theaters
Over 30,000 movie theaters all over the US accept MoviePass, including smaller, independent cinemas. This offers a great range of choice if you go to the movies a lot, and gives you the opportunity to plan a more interesting day out around your movie.
MoviePass buys tickets directly from the theater for full price, so that smaller, independent cinemas aren’t operating at a loss. In fact, MoviePass actually operates at a loss for the time being, entirely benefitting you, the customer.
- Range of options
With MoviePass you are able to see 3D and IMAX movies for just a couple of dollars more per month. For those who like to see movies in 3D this offers fantastic savings over time. The 3D and IMAX subscription also allows you to see any movie you want that is out at participating theaters.
- Track the movies that you’ve seen
Regular movie-goers will want to keep track of everything they have and haven’t seen to plan their next movie night, and MoviePass keeps a track of everything for you. Some customers have voiced concerns about MoviePass tracking their location, but the app will only use location tracking on an opt-in basis, so customers are able to opt out of that if they feel uncomfortable.
- You can’t book online
Although it is nice to be able to go and see any movie on a whim, it can also be nice to be able to plan your day or night out in advance. Because you can’t book online you’ll need to get there early and queue for showings which are likely to be more popular and this still doesn’t guarantee you’ll get your ticket.
- You have to be in or near the theater to check in
Even if you are having dinner or drinks before your movie you’ll need to be at the theater early or go beforehand so that you can check in and buy your ticket, which could make your night out a little more complicated. If you are going with others, it could be frustrating having to go and buy your own ticket separately whilst everyone else is already at dinner!
- Lower price subscriptions don’t cover all movies, or viewings
For the bargain prices you are only able to choose from a small selection of allowed movies, which might be frustrating if none of the movies you want to see are on that list. If you don’t go to the movies as often as you thought you would and have paid for a higher price subscription you might then be operating at a loss.
- Price likely to go up again
MoviePass is still trying to perfect its business model, and dropped the price as low as it is in order to win subscribers back and stay popular. This price is likely to rise again over time as the company work out what they can get away with.
- High demand pricing
MoviePass will soon implement “high demand” pricing which means that subscribers will pay a premium for the more popular films. As most moviegoers will be interested in seeing the biggest blockbusters of the year this could work out more expensive than they originally thought. On top of this they can’t book their tickets in advance so are actually at a disadvantage.
- Solo ticket buyers only
If you’re watching a movie with friends or family, everyone needs to have a MoviePass or buy their own tickets separately. Again, when attending in a group this means that everyone else can pre-book their tickets and you may have to sit elsewhere if you can get in at all!
Is MoviePass Worth It?
Whether MoviePass is worth it for you specifically largely depends on a number of factors.
Firstly, if you go to the movies more than once a month, but aren’t looking to go more than once a week, it could work out well for you financially. If you are a fan of seeing movies in 3D or at an IMAX theater, you will have to be happy to pay a premium, and be ok with spending more and sometimes having to see movies in 2D anyway. It’s also not the right choice for movie fans who want to see the biggest blockbusters on opening weekend – as you’d want to pre-book and it would probably be more expensive anyway.
A MoviePass would be great for someone who visits the cinema on their own regularly, and maybe lives or works within walking distance of a movie theater that accepts their MoviePass, so that they can see movies at a discounted price, whenever they feel like it. Casual moviegoers, who are more interested in seeing a range of films and aren’t too bothered about specific movies or franchises, can try this service as well.
One of the biggest positives of MoviePass is that you are free to cancel your subscription at any time, so it is definitely worth trying out even if you aren’t entirely sure that it is the right movie subscription for you.