MoviePass may end for good this weekend. Its parent company, Helios and Matheson Analytics, announced today that the once-promising theater ticket service would cease all operations effectively immediately tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 14.
"[Our] efforts to recapitalize MoviePass have not been successful to date,” Helios and Matheson said in a statement run by Variety, adding that the board is looking into selling MoviePass or massively reorganizing the film-centric venture. “The company is continuing its efforts to seek financing to fund its operations ... [but] the company is unable to predict if or when the MoviePass service will continue.”
While the service going defunct is certainly the end of an era, it's also not that surprising for a brand that has suffered major setbacks — most, if not all, of them financial — over the last year or so. Like Sinemia (also out of business) and AMC Stubs A-List, MoviePass, which first launched in 2011, was a subscription-based program that allowed app users to see one movie a day for the low price of just $9.95 a month.
That price would be slashed down to just $7.50 in November of 2017. But when that model proved wildly unsustainable, the company tried different tactics — like a $2 surcharge for bigger blockbuster movies, and switching to a three-movie-per-month system — which eventually could not save the service that many saw as a revolutionary way to enjoy the latest big-screen releases at their local theater.
Trouble really reared its ugly head last summer when MoviePass needed $5 million to stave off financial ruin after the app suffered major outages around the release of Mission: Impossible - Fallout. To rectify the situation, Helios and Matheson tried to double up the subscription fee to $14.95 a month. In addition, some customers reported that they couldn't cancel their subscriptions as the new model was rolled out.
At this point AMBC Stubs A-List was proving to be a much more lucrative endeavor, while MoviePass attempted to quell the wave of debt rising around its metaphorical shoulders. To make matters worse, shareholders brought a class action lawsuit against the company over an alleged quarterly loss of $126 million. Not long after, a survey found that the app was tracking to lose half of its users. A month later, MoviePass re-enrolled former members against their will in a stunt that many saw as very bad publicity. Less than a month after that, the attorney general of New York announced that he would be opening an investigation into Helios and Matheson, which then decided to "dump" MoviePass as a subsidiary and spin the business into an un-affiliated venture.
Another revamp was announced for early 2019 with a three-tier pricing system based on region. In late January, they also promised to bring back the unlimited movie plan, intending to roll out a major marketing campaign with billboard space in Manhattan's Times Square. They offered said unlimited plan by March, but it was only available for a short time and severely limited the list of films one could see with it.