MoviePass, the controversial unlimited-movie-ticket plan whose June launch was aborted when theaters refused to participate, has sidestepped reluctant exhibitors and announced plans to launch again in early 2012.
Under the Netflix-style program, moviegoers will be able to pay a monthly fee and receive unlimited tickets. The price for the service, according to a Tuesday press release announcing the relaunch, will vary depending on the average ticket price in each locale.
The initial test of the service was to have taken place in San Francisco, where moviegoers would have paid $50 a month for unlimited admission.
The relaunch was made possible by a partnership between MoviePass and the Hollywood Movie Money system, which has 36,000 participating theaters in its network. MoviePass subscribers will be able to print out Movie Money vouchers and redeem them at theaters, which will receive the full price of admission.
MoviePass will make money on the program if subscribers end up underusing the service.
MoviePass had originally planned to launch in late June in San Francisco, but exhibitors were angered when it turned out that the service had not consulted with theaters before announcing the program.
At the time, Landmark Theatres CEO Ted Mundorff told TheWrap that he was "stunned" that the announcement was made, and added, "We are not interested in outside entities setting ticket prices for us." The AMC chain issued a press release decrying a program that it said "does not integrate well into our programs and could create significant guest experience issues."
When virtually all the theater chains involved refused to honor MoviePass vouchers, the company pulled the program and promised to relaunch after educating exhibitors about the plan.
Instead, though, MoviePass appears to have done an end run around theaters by partnering with Hollywood Movie Money, which has preexisting contracts with many exhibitors. (AMC, which refused to honor MoviePass vouchers in June, is part of the Movie Money network; Landmark Theatres is not.)
Users will be able to subscribe to the monthly service at www.moviepass.com, and a full mobile version of MoviePass is to launch in early 2012.
The beta service will first be available by invitation only. Charter subscribers will be able to share invitations with friends and family.
MoviePass did not reveal details about the service. In the original, June test, subscribers were limited to one movie per day and one ticket per film.
"Because MoviePass will be paying theaters the full price of admission using the Hollywood Movie Money system, the theater industry benefits as well as the fans," Ron Randolph-Wall, CEO of Quantum Rewards, which operates Hollywood Movie Money, said in the press release. "With theater attendance down we believe that any opportunity to drive moviegoers back to theaters benefits exhibitors, studios, and the creative community alike."
MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes added: "Great movies are meant to be seen on the big screen and we are passionate about delivering an innovative service that will give fans more reasons to go to the movies."