MoviePass says it’s not raising its price after all

Maybe members will even be able to use it again.
Maybe members will even be able to use it again.
Image: REUTERS/Mike Segar/Illustration
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What do you get with MoviePass? Who even knows anymore.

The publicly owned movie-ticket subscription service is constantly changing the scope and cost of its service as it juggles the deflating expectations of customers, its parent company’s investors, and diminishing available funds.

Six days ago, MoviePass said it was raising the price of its standard plan to $15 per month, from $9.95, for one movie ticket per day in the US. It also said it was blocking members from seeing new movies opening on more than 1,000 screens, on top of other recently imposed limitations, like charging additional fees for popular movies and showtimes.

It’s taking that all back now. The monthly subscription price will stay at $9.95, but MoviePass will now only let subscribers use three movie tickets per month, it announced today (Aug. 6). It will suspend peak pricing along with a policy that required subscribers to submit photos of their ticket stubs for each movie seen using the service. And the new plan will get members into “many major studio first-run films,” the company said. Representatives did not immediately return Quartz’s request for clarity on the “many” that would be offered.

The new plan starts rolling out on Aug. 15, as the summer-movie period begins to winds down, and existing members will be offered it when their next monthly cycle starts. Subscribers on the annual subscription promotion, which typically costs about $89.95 per year, will not be affected until their plan is up for renewal.

MoviePass currently sells a three-ticket plan for $7.95 per month that will presumably be replaced by this new plan when it hits later this month.

Rampant service issues and radical plan changes—which stem from the company’s financial troubles—have left customers frustrated and confused about the service they’re paying for in recent weeks.

MoviePass said 85% of its subscribers watched three movies per month or less, and therefore wouldn’t be affected much by the latest plan changes. But the measures would help cut down on costs.

“While most of our loyal subscribers shared the passion for this new accessible movie experience and experimented fairly, the fact is that a small number have used our business model to a point where it was compromising the business’ long-term stability,” CEO Mitch Lowe said in a statement today. “We are now creating a framework to… bring some moderation to the small number of subscribers who imposed undue cost on the system by viewing a disproportionately large number of movies.”

Many of those heavy users, keep in mind, were only using the service as advertised. As of today, the company was still advertising the ability to “enjoy a movie every day” with the $9.95 per month plan.

But the expense of some users watching movies every day was just too great for MoviePass. Its parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics burned $45 million in cash in June because of ballooning costs as the summer movie season ramped up.