After an unsuccessful first run, MoviePass 2.0 is getting ready to hit theaters.
The movie ticket subscription service originally launched in 2011 and saw rapid growth when it began allowing subscribers to view one movie per day for $10 a month. The price drop helped the company reach 3 million subscribers but dug the company into a financial hole. It shut down three years ago.
Now MoviePass is hoping cinephiles will give it a second chance after MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes bought the company out of bankruptcy last year.
The beta version of its revamped subscription model is set to launch in early September in select markets for a limited group of customers.
“It’s not as rich an offer,” said Robbie Kellman Baxter, a subscription model expert and author of “The Membership Economy.” But “it’s a better offer in terms of sustainability for the organization, for MoviePass.”
Did MoviePass go out of business?
While the low price inflated subscription rates, MoviePass struggled to turn a profit. The company shut down in 2019 and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in 2020.
“That was never a sustainable business model,” Angert said.
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What is MoviePass 2.0 beta?
The online waitlist for the new MoviePass closed late Monday. The beta service is accessible by invite only. Subscribers can collect credits that can be used to view movies in theaters.
The company’s website says the beta version will launch in select markets on or around Labor Day, typically a slower weekend for movie theaters. More markets are set to follow.
How much will the new MoviePass cost?
Unlike the original MoviePass subscription model, there will be three pricing tiers, according to MoviePass’ website. Prices vary across markets but will generally be $10, $20 and $30, with each level offering a certain amount of credits that can be put toward movie tickets.
“It’s not going to be as good of a deal” as the original $10 per month model, said Daniel McCarthy, an assistant professor of marketing at Emory University. But “I suspect that the core business will be more profitable for this round.”
Credits can be rolled over to the following month or traded, Spikes, who is again serving as CEO, said in february. Unlike the original version, MoviePass will allow subscribers to bring a friend with credits.
MoviePass did not respond to a request for comment, but its website says more details will come.
Which theaters will accept MoviePass?
A MoviePass subscription will include all major theaters in the US that accept major credit cards, according to its website.
The company appears to be working more closely with movie theaters this time around. In an interview with NPR earlier this monthSpikes said MoviePass is negotiating with theaters for lower ticket prices instead of paying full price.
“MoviePass does face an uphill battle, but all of these theater chains seem to be struggling,” Angert said. “The more desperate they become and the more dire the circumstances become, the more willing they might be to come to the table.”
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How is this different from AMC’s A-List pass or Regal Unlimited?
Regal’s subscription plan, Gift Unlimited, offers unlimited movies with three tiers based on theater location starting at $18 per month plus tax. The Cinemark Movie Club offers one 2D adult ticket for any movie for $9.99 per month.
“At this point, (MoviePass) feels less innovative because others have caught up,” Kellman Baxter said.
MoviePass sets itself apart by working with multiple theater chains, but Angert said that alone may not be enough to get customers interested. What could make it stand out is its credit system, which lets subscribers earn more credits by watching targeted ads.
“It may be a way to outdo the competition,” Angert said.
Will movie pass use eye tracking?
Spikes said the new MoviePass app will allow users to watch ads to earn more credits. If the user looks away from the ad, the video pauses.
“Your device uses your own facial detection” while the ads play, Spikes said. “It basically creates a transaction between you and the brand.”
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Another monthly subscription could be a ‘big ask’
While theaters have seen success with blockbuster hits like “Top Gun: Maverick” this summer, many theater-goers have yet to return in pre-pandemic numbers.
Cineworld Group PLCwhich owns Regal Cinemas, said earlier this month it’s considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US as it struggles to fill seats.
“Having a lot of open seats on certain days of the week before it might have been more of an annoyance for the movie operators,” McCarthy said. “Now, they could use every single dollar of revenue they can get.”
MoviePass could help fill those seats, especially now that more customers are feeling comfortable in movie theaters.
“Ten dollars is a big ask when you have all these other streaming services,” Angert said.
You can follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter @bailey_schulz and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter here for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism