Updated Aug 14, 2018 at 05:44PM EDT by Matt.

Added Jul 31, 2018 at 11:45AM EDT by Matt.

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MoviePass is an subscription service for purchasing movie tickets. Users pay a flat fee and, depending on their plan, are allowed to purchase a certain number of movie tickets per month. The service has been the subject of numerous controversies due to its economic model, which strongly favors the consumer, leading many to question the company's sustainability.


Entrepreneurs Stacy Spikes and Hamet Watt founded MoviePass in 2011. The original incarnation of the service followed a voucher system, requiring users to print tickets out at home.[1]

In 2012, the service launched a beta version of their credit card system, which was reloaded each time the user selects a ticket.[2]

Pricing System

Four years later, MoviePass named former Netflix executive Mitch Lowe CEO. Shortly after, the company announced a tiered pricing structure, ranging between $20 per month to $100 per month.[3]

Price Drop

As a result of the analytics firm Helios and Matheson purchasing a majority stake in MoviePass August 2017, the service dropped the price of the service to $9.95 per month for unlimited movies, allowing users to see as many as one movie per day. The drastic price drop led to overwhelming demand for the services and new subscribers complained of long wait times for service as well as to receive their MoviePass debit card.[4]

The price drop led many to question how the company made money. MoviePass CEO explained that they intended to use a gym model, where the people who pay for the service but rarely use it, essentially pay for operations.


While the service has offered various pricing structures throughout its tenure, its main function is to offer a subscription service for movie theaters. Using the proprietary app, users are able to see what movie theaters support the service and what films are available for viewing. After they select a time and date, the user checks in. They then use the debit card, which is refilled each time the user checks into a movie, to pay for the ticket.


2018 Outage

On July 26th, 2018, MoviePass users reported outages of the service. Aside from theaters that offered MoviePass's e-ticketing service, the app was largely unavailable. The following day, it was reported that the outage was caused by a lack of funds, which the company replenished by receiving an emergency loan of $5 million.[5]

When the outage ended, the service did not offer tickets to the weekends biggest opening, Mission Impossible: Fallout.

Over the next few days, many speculated on the future of MoviePass. Most reports from inside the company did not assuage concerns that the service may be coming to an end. Online, people joked about the future of the company as well as the presumed apocalyptic mood inside the company (examples below).

a live look at the moviepass offices Seinfeld Current Day @Seinfeld2000 moviepass HQ curently Why don't you just tell me the name of the movie you've selected BANKRUPTING MOVIEPASS

On July 31st, announced that they would be raising prices to $14.95 per month. Additionally, first-run films, particularly from major studios, would be blacked out for an extended period of time upon release.

Cancellation Issues

In August 2018, Moviepass announced several new policy changes, switching the base plan to three-movies per month for $9.95 per month. The plan, however, only allowed for two film options at a time, which are determined by Moviepass. As a result of the frequent changes, some users began attempting to cancel their subscriptions.

However, on August 13th, some people complained that while they have canceled their plans, their subscription has been reactivated. Others complained that while they attempted to cancel their plans, the Moviepass gave an error message when cancelation is selected (examples below).[6]

release me from this hell @MoviePass please let me leave movie pass i want out 44/250 characters Error Failed to cancel account Please will not be a new OK Exception made when redeeming a gift subscription that carries from an active month to month subscription. Your MoviePass account will remain active until the end of the current biling period I canceled my MoviePass subscription last week when they ran out of money. Today I got an email that I had automatically been resubscribed when they changed the plan. I had to cancel AGAIN. I foresee many chargebacks. Billing Change Billing Address Use shipping address for billing? YES Next Billing Date: August 18, 2018 Heads up to anyone who canceled MoviePass SURPRISE: You didn't cancel MoviePass, and now you're automatically enrolled in the "new" plan. @MoviePass is that even legal?? Y'all shady af now 1:50 PM View details We're excited to have you on this journey with us. Your endless support, understan app e greatly ed. Hi Courtney We received your confirmation for your new MoviePass plan. Some exciting updates are coming on the first day of your next billing cycle, 2018-08-27 Please note: if you had previously requested cancellation prior to opting-in, your opt-in to the new plan will take priority and your account will not be cancelled See you a The MoviePass Team Your new membership will include up to three standard movies a month for $9.95 and you will also be eligible for $2.00 to $5.00 off any additional movie tickets

On August 14th, Moviepass released a statement on the issues. They said:

On Monday, August 13th, we learned that some members encountered difficulty with the cancellation process. We have fixed the bugs that were causing the issue and we have confirmed that none of our members have been opted-in or converted to the new plan without their express permission. In addition, all cancellation requests are being correctly processed and no members were being blocked from canceling their accounts. We apologize for the inconvenience and ask that any impacted members contact customer support via the MoviePass app.

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Top Comments


>Charge people a monthly fee that's less than the price of a ticket
>Each ticket your customers purchase comes out of your pocket
>Let your customers see unlimited movies
>Your website goes down because you can't pay your hosting bill
>"Who could have predicted this?"
>Raise prices, add restrictions on number of movies seen, tell customers your product might not work all the time and you have no way to predict when it will or won't work
>[You tell people who unsubscribe that they can't re-up for nine months](
>Underpaid and overworked Customer Support takes weeks to respond to requests
>Theaters start refusing to accept your service
>"Why are we losing subscribers?"

What a great business.


The problem with trying to sell a movie service on the same model as a gym service is that a gym takes effort and sweat to use, people are lazy and often times when you're not fit, it's hard to find the motivation to keep it up. Moviegoing is on the opposite of the scale. Getting a ticket and going to a theater for a ridiculously low price takes no effort on the consumer's part. Fit, fat, lazy, motivated, they all come to the movies when you offer tickets at such a low price. You can't count on them being too lazy to go see the movies, going to the movies is a leisure activity.


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