You see, it was all just a test.
MoviePass is claiming the chaos of the last few months—in which its $10 movie-per-day plan became increasing unreliable, it started surge pricing, then limited moviegoers to three movies per month instead, and picked the movies they were able to see each day—was all done to determine the right pricing and plan model for its movie-ticket subscription service, rather than a retreat from the too-good-to-be-true plan introduced in 2017 that had it hemorrhaging cash.
Whatever the case, the embattled company seems to have landed on a promising model that recognizes that not all US moviegoers and movie markets are the same. Starting Jan. 1, MoviePass will abandon its one-size-fits-all approach and offer three movie-ticket subscriptions, the company announced on Dec. 6:
- “Select”: Three 2D movies per month, from a selection of films chosen by MoviePass, starting at $9.95. This is the current offering.
- “All Access”: Any three 2D movies per month, including opening weekend showings, starting at $14.95 per month.
- “Red Carpet”: Any three movies per month, including opening weekend showings and one showing in a premium format such as IMAX or 3D, starting at $19.95 per month.
There’s a little bit of something for everyone in that mix.
Prices will vary based on where customers are in the US. There will be three geographical zones,based on the subscriber’s zip code, the company told Quartz, in an email. The priciest plan in the priciest markets—big cities like New York and Los Angeles, where moviegoing is most expensive—will cost $25 per month. Subscribers will be able to use MoviePass out of zone occasionally, but the company said it will be watching to make sure people aren’t abusing the pricing structure.
For the holidays, MoviePass is running a promotion where people can buy a year of the All Access and Red Carpet plans upfront, for less than what the plans would cost month to month. The cheaper All Access plan is around $120 for 12 months. People can buy more than one subscription—for themselves and a friend or family member, for example—to save even more. Two or more All Access subscriptions are $99.95 each for a year.
As a startup, MoviePass experimented with many pricing and plan options, costing as little as $15 for a few movies per month and as much as $100 for unlimited movies in certain areas. Hoping to attract casual moviegoers, the company settled on $9.95 per month to see one movie each day in August 2017, after consultancy Helios and Matheson Analytics acquired a majority stake in the company. Ten dollars for nearly unlimited moviegoing was an easy proposition for most people to wrap their heads around. Unfortunately, a summer of blockbusters and subscribers who went to the movies more than four times a month nearly bled the company dry.
In August 2018, it had to scale back, offering three movie tickets per month to a limited selection of films that changed daily, for around $10.
MoviePass’s plans are now similar to those offered by rival Sinemia, which sells subscriptions for two, three, or 30 movie tickets per month. The company drew attention this year as MoviePass was floundering. But it had issues of its own. A class-action lawsuit was filed against it in November over processing fees customers say they were unexpectedly charged for booking tickets. Sinemia is also overhauling its system to improve customer service, reduce fees, and make it easier to buy tickets.
MoviePass is staging a comeback of its own with these new plans. The question is, whether people will trust MoviePass enough after months of turmoil to give these new plans a shot.