MoviePass is reintroducing an unlimited subscription plan, 7 months after it restricted customers to just 3 movies per month.
The new unlimited plan offers subscribers one movie ticket a day at two price points: A full year plan that works out to the service’s original $9.95 per month — available for customers who pay $119.40 for a year subscription up front –and a $14.95 month-to-month option. These price points will only be available for a limited time, but the plans themselves will be available moving forward, Ted Farnsworth, CEO of MoviePass parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics, told TheWrap
“It will be unfettered just like MoviePass was before,” Farnsworth said. “Over the last several months we really wanted to slow everything down and look at all the fraud and misuse. We’ve continued to raise money and, with MoviePass itself, [we’re] taking a step back and figuring out how to move forward.”
The plans will place no cap on the number of 2D films users can watch through Moviepass, subject to network demand and availability on what the company says is more than 30,000 screens nationwide. Tickets can be reserved three hours in advance, and users can check in between 30 minutes before and 10 minutes after a film starts.
The company also promises “A large selection of blockbusters and independent films.”
Farnsworth told TheWrap that the decision to bring back the unlimited subscription model was data-driven. He noted the models of AMC Theatres’ Stubs A-List subscription service, which gives members access to three movies a week for $20 per month, and Cinemark’s Movie Club service, which for $9 a month offers a movie a month and additional tickets at the same price.
“You’ve got AMC that has caps and Cinemark that has caps — with their caps, their average moviegoer goes to 2.8 movies a month. When we were $9.95, we were at 1.7 movies a month per subscriber,” Farnsworth said. “When a consumer is spending north of $20 they’re gonna make sure they’re getting their money’s worth. People don’t want a cap. They don’t like them.”
“[$9.95] is ultimately the price I want, but I want to make sure we do it in a controlled fashion,” he continued.
After it slashed the price of a subscription to $10 a month from as much as $50 in August 2017, MoviePass enjoyed a period of rapid subscriber growth — more than expected — and newfound popularity. But the expansion proved economically unsustainable.
The company burned through millions of dollars, and also suffered from what it said was a significant fraud problem. Farnsworth told TheWrap that MoviePass lost $60 million alone because subscribers shared their devices to buy tickets for non-members.
Now, Farnsworth believes they’ve found ways to stomp that out. One way, he said, is by pinging the location on users’ phones after they’ve bought a ticket to confirm they’re in the movie theater, and if not, their account is flagged.
The company hopes that fraud prevention efforts, and the recently-announced retooling of its business model to focus more on films it produces, will reinvigorate the service.
MoviePass Films, which Farnsworth said will be produced in $15 million to $30 million budget range, will be made available to MoviePass subscribers in hopes that this will both increase the films’ box-office potential and lead to an expansion of the subscription service itself.
Helios and Matheson is also in the process of spinning off MoviePass Entertainment — which would include the subscription service — along with MoviePass Films and Moviefone to create a new subsidiary that would become a separate, publicly traded company.
Despite a tumultuous 2018 — during which MoviePass sustained hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, enraged subscribers with numerous changes to its subscriptions and became the subject of a New York Attorney General’s office probe — Farnsworth says the company’s future is not in doubt.
“We’re still here, not going anywhere,” Farnsworth said. “I was never in doubt that MoviePass would shut down. Nope.”