MoviePass Parent Company Sued by Shareholders as It Continues to Bleed Money

There’s substantial doubt that the company will be able to survive through August 2019

MoviePass Gotti
MoviePass's Rod Vanderbilt (left), CEO Mitch Lowe and parent company Helios & Matheson CEO Ted Farnsworth, at the premiere of Gotti, starring John Travolta/Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Helios & Matheson Analytics, the data company that owns subscription movie-going service MoviePass, said in filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday that it suffered a net loss of $63.4 million for the three months ending June 30. Adding insult to ever-increasing injury, shareholders are now suing the company as well.

The lawsuit, filed in New York against Helios & Matheson CEO Ted Farnsworth and CFO Stuart Benson, accuses them of defrauding shareholders by presenting misleading information about the company’s financial standing.

“Defendants carried out a plan, scheme and course of conduct which was intended to and did, deceive the investing public and cause the plaintiff and other members of the class to purchase Helios common stock at artificially inflated prices,” the suit, filed by shareholder Jeffrey Braxton’s lawyers, reads.

“Both of the individual defendants are liable as participants in a fraudulent course of business that operated as a fraud or deceit on purchasers of Helios common stock by disseminating materially false and misleading statements and/or concealing material adverse facts,” the suit continues.

Braxton and his lawyers said they reviewed SEC filings, analysts’ reports, press releases and other public statements issued by Helios & Matheson, as well as media reports about the company to determine they were misleading investors and withholding material information.

Helios & Matheson said in its most recent SEC quarterly filing on Tuesday that it had substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern through Aug. 14, 2019, without raising additional capital.

As of June 30 Helios & Matheson had $15.5 million cash on hand.

The company also said that on June 21 it received a letter from the Nasdaq, warning that with shares trading below $1, the company is in danger of being de-listed, one of the first warning signs of bankruptcy for a public company. Helios & Matheson has until Dec. 18 to boost its shares back above $1.

Shareholders, just a few weeks ago, had approved a remarkable 1-to-250 reverse stock split to prevent the company from being de-listed from the Nasdaq. The plan helped briefly boost Helios & Matheson shares before they fell back below $1 one week later.

There’s not a one-to-one causation for delisted companies going bankrupt. But according to the SEC website, “In most instances, companies that file under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code are generally unable to meet the listing standards to continue to trade on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.”

Shares of Helios & Matheson were down more than 28 percent in after-hours trading on Tuesday after the company reported a gross loss of $104.6 million and a net loss of $63.3 million in the quarter. Shares of Helios & Matheson closed at 5 cents.

Since acquiring MoviePass last August, Helios & Matheson has poured tens of millions of dollars into the monthly subscription moviegoing service, fueling its ability to sign up 3 million-plus users in less than a year.

However, that subscriber growth has proven costly since the company pays movie theaters full price for every ticket its subscribers purchase, meaning that even occasional MoviePass users have driven the company further into the red. Plans to dredge up additional revenue by selling user data or investing in its own films have yet to generate significant revenue.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.