MoviePass’s social media team did not take kindly to AMC Theatres launching a rival movie-ticket subscription on Wednesday, June 20.
It slammed the theater chain for the new service, AMC Stubs A-List, which is twice the price of MoviePass at $19.95 a month, and gets users into 3 movies per week, rather than the one movie per day theatergoers get with MoviePass. It launches June 26. MoviePass wasn’t impressed.
Users on Twitter were quick to point out that MoviePass has issues of its own—namely hard to reach or unhelpful customer service—that should be fixed before it starts criticizing others.
MoviePass’s relationship with AMC—the US’s largest theater chain—is strained at best, hostile at worst. When MoviePass dropped its price to $9.95 per month for nearly unlimited 2D movie showings last August, AMC said it was talking to lawyers about how to bar MoviePass from its locations, because the “price level is unsustainable.”
MoviePass subscribers pay for tickets at the box office using a pre-loaded debit card. The company covers the full cost of the tickets its subscribers use, so it doesn’t need to work with theaters to operate. It gets bulk discounts from some theater chains to keep costs down, and AMC said at the time that it would not offer discounts to MoviePass either.
Things came to a head in January when MoviePass stripped 10 of the busiest AMC theaters from its service for about three months because it said the theater chain refused to collaborate with it. Since then, AMC executives have continued to argue that MoviePass charges too little.
In defense of its original tweet, MoviePass added:
The social team for the film Gotti, which MoviePass invested in, also got snippy in an ad this week that likened critics who gave the film negative reviews to a “troll behind a keyboard.”
AMC Stubs A-List may be more expensive than MoviePass, but it has features MoviePass doesn’t. It includes 3D, IMAX, and other premium movie formats, which MoviePass does not currently support, as well as the ability to buy tickets in advance and see titles more than once.
It also has more financial stability than MoviePass, because it’s part of a broader movie theater business. MoviePass has struggled to reign in expenses as its member base has grown to 3 million, and other revenue sources, like advertising and studio partnerships, are still in their infancy.
Shares of MoviePass parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics closed down 30% at $0.31 on Wednesday, the day AMC announced the service.
Shares had spiked the day before to $0.45 after Helios and Matheson revealed it was plotting ways to avoid losing face on Wall Street. The company is in danger of being delisted on the Nasdaq because its shares have traded at below $1 for more than a month. It said it was considering moves like a reverse stock split to bring the get the price up, in a preliminary proxy filing.