Update (8/11/18): Another day, another change to MoviePass.
Earlier this week, the movie subscription service backtracked on its plan to increase its monthly fee after customer backlash. Starting Aug. 15, MoviePass will keep its monthly plan at $9.95 a month. But the new plan will allow subscribers to see three movies a month. Previously, the subscription gave members access to one movie a day. Subscribers can receive up to a $5 discount on additional movie tickets. Annual subscribers will not be affected by the new plan until their renewal date.
The new plan will scrap peak pricing, a surcharge on popular showtimes the service added in July. Major new releases will be included under the plan – including “The Meg,” which opened Friday – though showtimes may be limited.
Increased monthly fee. Blacked-out showings for new movies. Peak pricing.
If you’re a MoviePass customer and your head is spinning from the service’s recent changes, you’re not alone.
The movie subscription service – known as Netflix for movies – set the movie-going world on fire a year ago when it dropped its monthly fee to $9.95 a month, allowing subscribers to see one movie a day.
But MoviePass has had a rough few days. Last week, the service ran out of money and borrowed $5 million to stay afloat. In turn, its subscribers were met with outages and blocked from seeing the weekend’s top new release, “Mission Impossible: Fallout.”
On Tuesday, MoviePass announced that it would implement new changes to keep its service up and running. At Take 2, we take a look at these changes to help you figure out how they could affect you.
Increased monthly fee
MoviePass will increase its monthly fee to $14.95 a month in the next 30 days. This is a 50 percent increase in the cost of the monthly subscription.
Subscribers will still be able to see one movie a day through the plan at participating theaters. But they will be limited in the new releases they can see using the service, based on another change announced Tuesday.
MoviePass is restricting subscribers’ access to blockbusters. The service is banning showings of new movies playing on 1,000 screens for the first two weeks of release.
This means users will have to wait two weeks to use the service to see a major new release like “Christopher Robin,” which opened Aug. 3.
In early July, the service started “peak pricing,” or adding a surcharge to showings of films where there’s a high demand. Subscribers may pay an additional $2 to $6 a ticket to see a film on top of their monthly subscription price. Annual subscribers are exempt from peak pricing.
Peak pricing is in effect for showtimes where a red bolt is displayed in the MoviePass app.
The extra cost has annoyed many subscribers, who have expressed their displeasure on social media. Some question the fee when the showings they’re paying extra to see haven’t been busy.
Should I keep MoviePass?
The answer depends on your movie viewing habits and your budget. It depends how regularly you see movies and how much you value stability. We’ll look at both sides of that coin.
Now that the service is blocking showings of major new releases for the first two weeks, this means moviegoers will have to wait longer to see blockbusters if they want to use their MoviePass. Some moviegoers are not happy that they are paying more for the service – with more restrictions as to what they can see.
However, the average price of a movie ticket in the U.S. has jumped to $9.38. (When I wrote about movie subscription services in December, the average price was $8.93.) If you see at least two movies a month, then it’s worth it to keep MoviePass for however long it may last. Even with a 50 percent increase, the monthly subscription fee of $14.95 amounts to less than the cost of two movie tickets – $18.76 – saving you $3.81.
Remember that MoviePass does not cover 3-D, XD or IMAX showings. This is important when it comes to new releases, which are often shown in these formats. Subscribers who are planning to catch blockbusters in 3-D, XD or IMAX on opening weekend couldn’t use MoviePass anyway for these showings. What these subscribers could do is pay for the premium screening out of pocket, then use MoviePass to catch the flick a second time when the two weeks are up. Also, some subscribers may be willing to just wait the two weeks to see new releases.
The new change favors independent movies playing on fewer screens. If you’re a fan of smaller films, you won’t have to wait to catch them with MoviePass. Independent films don’t usually play in Northeast Pennsylvania for very long, so this benefits local moviegoers.
The more movies you see, the better off you may be holding onto MoviePass. You can also cancel your monthly subscription at any time.
What are my other options?
You may be a MoviePass subscriber who’s frustrated with the peak pricing, blacked-out movies and outages. You like going to the movies, but you want more stability for your money.
The good news is, you have options, whether you decide to go with a movie theater’s subscription service or one not affiliated with a particular theater.
Cinemark Movie Club: The theater chain’s program costs $8.99 a month. The subscription allows members to see one movie a month, excluding 3-D, XD and IMAX. Unused tickets can roll over. Members can add additional tickets for $8.99 each and save 20 percent on concessions. You can use the program in conjunction with the Cinemark Connections reward program. This subscription program works best for those who don’t see movies frequently but want to save money when they do. Subscribers can bank their tickets for the movies they really want to see.
AMC Stubs A-List: AMC Theatres’ subscription program allows subscribers to see three movies a week – including IMAX and 3-D – for $19.95 a month. That means members can see 12 movies a month, and there’s no restrictions on opening weekends. Considering the average cost of a movie ticket at $9.38, the program is worth is if you see at least two movies a month. It’s a great plan for those who go to the movies often. Unfortunately for NEPA moviegoers, the closest AMC theaters are in Bloomsburg and Allentown.
Sinemia: The subscription service is similar to MoviePass in that it can be used at any participating theater. And right now, Sinemia is offering a summer sale on its plans. Individual plans start at $3.99 a month for one movie and $7.99 a month for two movies, both excluding 3-D and IMAX. The elite plans – two movies for $9.99 a month and three movies for $13.99 a month – include 3-D and IMAX showings. The service also offers family plans starting at $7.99 a month for one movie for two people. Monthly subscribers must pay a $20 initiation fee, but the fee is waived for annual subscribers. There’s no restrictions on opening weekends. Sinemia’s summer discounts are appealing, and the service offers a wide selection of plans to meet different viewing habits. The elite plans sound great for those who want to see blockbusters in the 3-D and IMAX formats.
Here at Take 2, we hope we’ve helped you sort out MoviePass’s changes as well as your movie subscription options. Whatever you decide, we hope you choose what’s best for you and your movie-going habits. See you at the cinema!