MoviePass Debuts Confusing Three-Tier Pricing Structure As Parent Company Distances Itself From Service

We are over half-way through with the first month of 2019, and to my surprise, MoviePass is still alive and kicking. Though it must be said, I’m using the most basic definition of alive in describing the subscription service, as it continues to struggle to find its footing and could implode at any moment. Alas, to the company’s credit, MoviePass is still here and with the new year, there comes new pricing and a divorce (of sorts) from the much-maligned parent company.

First, it’s important to note that I take no pleasure in discussing MoviePass again and again. Yes, I was burned in the past and do harbor a fair bit of resentment, but as someone that loves films and discussing them at length, it’s painful to have to report about a company that continuously seems to shoot itself in the foot and try to take advantage of folks. And that’s exactly what seems to be happening with this new pricing structure that the company hopes leads to profits and some sort of long-term viability.

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The pricing structure that has been heavily advertised (I have received no less than three MoviePass emails about it in the last 24 hours, alone) features three separate plans. There’s a $9.95 plan for three movies a month, where you can only choose from the subscription services random assortment of six films each day. Then you have $14.95 a month, which allows a customer to see any three movies of their choice per month, as long as they are in 2D and not premium formats. And finally, for a mere $19.95 per month, you can choose any three movies, including one premium format (3D, IMAX, etc…).

Sounds reasonable and easy to follow, right? Well, not exactly.

You see, there’s a catch. There’s always a catch. The prices in the email say “Starting at…” And as you might expect, that means the reasonable prices that are there to lure you back to the subscription service are merely the starting point and very well might go up. In fact, the small print says that the prices for each month plan could increase by $3 or $5 depending on “geography.”

So, as a diligent movie-goer, I decided to play a game of “What Does MoviePass Actually Cost?” It’s a fun game where you go to the MoviePass website, enter in your zip code, and you find the true price of what your monthly fee is going to be. Now, I live in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Not much of a booming metropolis, but definitely not a small town. And to my non-surprise, the price for my three tiers are actually $3 more than advertised, with prices of $12.95, $17.95, and $21.95, respectively. Oof.

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Now, my local theater chain (Marcus Cinemas, represent!) has special deals that include $5 tickets on Tuesday and Thursday (any times), as well as matinees pricing well under $10. Why would I pay $22 a month for three movies, when (at best) it’s only going to save me maybe $10, which is negated by the hassle of buying tickets through the service and worrying about how my wife and/or friends will buy tickets and sit next to me (the local multiplexes all do reserved seating).

But maybe, I’m crazy. Perhaps, the prices are worth it for some folks. Well, not if you live in any major metropolitan area in the US. As I found out, by randomly putting in zip codes for other metro areas, such as New York City, the prices easily reach the additional $5 range. What it boils down to is that you’re only going to get those reasonable, low prices if you are someone who lives in a small town or distant suburb. At which point, MoviePass is hoping you (using demographical data) aren’t a huge cinephile that goes to the local multiplex once a week.

Ranting aside, it would appear that this new pricing plan is the true last-ditch effort by MoviePass’ parent company Helios & Matheson to keep the company afloat. In a new SEC filing (via Deadline), the parent company has made public its intention to spinoff MoviePass into its own separately-traded public company. What this does is assure that Helios & Matheson doesn’t receive the blowback that it has thanks to MoviePass’ many faux pas. With the stock price currently hovering around 2 cents a share, Helios & Matheson needs to separate itself from the sinking ship as quickly as possible.

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Of course, this SEC filing doesn’t mean this is a done deal. The company could still be disapproved and then MoviePass would remain linked to Helios & Matheson until its dying day.

Ultimately, I’m curious who out there is still a fan of MoviePass and is able to see past all of its obvious issues. Are you happy with the service? Have you found a way to enjoy the limited selection and higher prices? If you’re out there, let us know in the comments. Otherwise, if you play the “What Does MoviePass Actually Cost?” game, feel free to share your results!

Until next time, MoviePass, you silly, silly company.