MoviePass is great—unless you want to see “Star Wars” on opening night

This is not the movie you’re looking for.
This is not the movie you’re looking for.
Image: AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
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MoviePass, a sort of Netflix for cinemas that gets subscribers into one movie showing per day at major US theaters, has been catching fire since it lowered its price to $9.95 a month earlier this year. That’s not much more than the price of an average movie ticket. And MoviePass offered absurdly cheap deals to folks who paid for a year’s subscription in full, and to Costco members who bundled MoviePass with Fandor, the movie-streaming service.

It’s a great if you’re the type of person who is happy to just walk into a theater and see whatever is playing. But it’s useless if you want to see a popular new movie like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which hits US theater today, on opening night. You usually have to buy those tickets in advance, which isn’t possible with MoviePass.

MoviePass only sells same-day tickets (and only for 2D showings). And you have to be within 100 yards of the theater before you can check in with the app to buy your ticket. That means you have to physically go to the cinema earlier that same day if you want to buy tickets in advance.

In addition, the app doesn’t tell you the showing that you want to see is sold out. So you run the risk of getting there and being shut out. With a movie like The Last Jedi, that’s entirely possible—if not guaranteed—to happen on opening night.

The app is really designed for walk-in moviegoers. Those who live in major cities where there are multiple theaters available shouldn’t have a problem, nor should folks who go to a local theater that rarely sells out. Other MoviePass holders may have to wait a few days, or try a time of day were fewer people are at the cinemas, to see the hottest new movies.