MoviePass limits users to 3 movies per month in pivot to survive

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Aug 6, 2018, 12:43 PM EDT

After weeks of chaos that’s left many customers without a means to access the one-price, nearly unlimited moviegoing experience they signed up for, MoviePass has announced an overhaul to its pricing and attendance offerings that dramatically dials back the one-movie-per-day promise that lured so many people to the service in the first place. 

Starting soon, subscribers won’t be able to head to the theater once a day to get the full value from their $9.95 per-month plan (a pricing structure that MoviePass continues to massage as it looks to turn a profit). Instead, their full subscription will entitle them to no more than three trips past the velvet rope — the same number of theater visits previously offered under the company’s bargain $7.95 per-month plan.

Mission IMpossible Rogue Nation poster

MoviePass Chief Executive Mitch Lowe told The Wall Street Journal that the change will take effect beginning Aug. 15. The company reportedly is offering subscribers who see more than three movies per month a $2-$5 per-ticket discount for any additional passes they purchase via the MoviePass app.

The change comes on the heels of a series of rapid adjustments MoviePass has made to remain profitable as customers cash in on the company’s almost too-good-to-be-true offer of virtually unlimited theater attendance. Following “outages” that turned expectant subscribers away at theaters, MoviePass announced it would raise its fee from $9.95 per month to $14.95 per month, instituted a $2 surcharge for in-demand films, issued a public apology, and introduced a policy that takes major new films off the table during their first two weeks of release.

All that has happened only in the past few weeks, and parent company Helios’ stock price has reacted predictably. A slight rebound on news of the company’s efforts to shore up its profit model has hardly made a dent, so far, in the massive dive that reduced MoviePass’ per-share value from $8,000 late last year to a mere $7 cents as of Aug. 3. 

Exacerbating the MoviePass saga, while perhaps also removing some of the unmet demand for its service, AMC Theaters has entered the theater-binging fray with its own one-price ticketing plan. AMC’s recently-launched frequent moviegoer program, AMC Stubs A-List, charges subscribers $19.95 per month to attend three movies a week at any of its theaters in the U.S., and so far it’s been a hit.

Lowe told WSJ he still believes MoviePass will end up making money, although the model he posits sounds a whole lot like the same one used by brick-and-mortar theaters: by growing an “ecosystem” that allows the company to see returns on “concession sales, rides to theaters, and advertising,” according to the report. “Ultimately, I believe this is a 20 million-subscriber business over the next three to four years,” he said.

Have you gotten a MoviePass subscription, or have you been holding out to see whether the promise of a movie a day turns out to be nothing more than a fleeting fantasy? Share your thoughts on the shifting theatergoing landscape, and whether the new $14.95, three movies-per-month price is still an enticing (and sustainable) value.