Moviepass: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

moviepass-superjumboPrior to the days of having a newborn, Moviepass was possibly my best friend. As my absolutely favorite thing to do on the weekends was go see a movie or three, Moviepass allowed me to see one movie every day for, what at the time felt like, a small subscription fee. I do not recall exactly how I found out about the pass back in 2012, but upon moving to Los Angeles and realizing I had access to any movie I could possibly want to see, it was a no brainer to sign up for it. At the time, the business was in the Beta testing phase. It was not a widely known thing. In fact, of my friends, I was the first to take part, to which it slowly spread through most of my close friends. The business model at the time was that you had to sign up for a year or face huge cancellations fees and it was mainly only accepted at AMCs, the biggest of the theater chains in Los Angeles and most of the country, I assume.

For those that still aren’t aware of the service, it is a credit card and app based product. You received a credit card (like the one pictured above) in the mail and you download the app to your phone. Then, you head to the nearest theater that accepts Moviepass. Once there, you select the movie you want in the app and your GPS location informs the credit card that you are actually at the theater. If you’re not by the theater, it will inform you that you are unable to select that movie. Once selected, the credit card is unlocked for the amount of the movie ticket. You’re allowed to do that once a day for as many days as you like. The rules stress that you can only see a movie once and that it does not work with IMAX or 3D.

Over the years, I’ve seen several rule changes as the company grew wider and wider. At one point they became endorsed by the AMC theater chain, to the point where they basically just accept it as another credit card. I found this out accidentally, when I checked into a movie on my app and then proceeded to use my normal VISA credit card instead of the Moviepass. Once in the theater and still not realizing my mistake, I headed to the concession stand and purchased my snacks and without thinking, handed them my Moviepass… and it worked. So the money was unlocked and the amount of the ticket was subtracted from total. This works in relation to IMAX and 3D movies as well now, where you use the Moviepass to pay for the price of admission to a regular showing and pay the difference. I’m not entirely sure Moviepass Inc. is aware of these loopholes at AMC but I’m not sure there’s much of a difference. For one thing, it’s a credit card, so it’s not exactly aware what you’re using the money on, just that it’s approved to allow you to spend about $16 at the movies. And really when it comes down to it, what does it matter where that $16 goes if you’re going to spend it anyway?

Also over the years, they messed with a countdown clock. When I first got Moviepass, there was another sort of loophole where you could go see a movie at 9pm Saturday night and then get up Sunday morning and see an 8am matinee if you wanted to, not forcing you to wait an entire day. That changed for awhile with a countdown clock, more or less locking down the app for 24 hours after you used it. This got extremely annoying when you’d use it for say a 10pm Friday film and then want to see something Saturday as well but you’d have to wait until after 10. That went away thankfully. But now, under new ownership, the prices are increasing without any added benefits. They rolled out an entire new pricing plan and did away with the year requirement and cancellation fees, which was a super smart move and makes the idea of stopping the service for awhile and starting back up a more feasible idea for me.

For someone in Los Angeles, ticket prices for a regular showing of a film usually falls around $16 on average. So to make the $50 a month subscription fee worth it, you have to see at least four movies ($64). But working against you is the fact that if you go with your kid or a date, you still have to purchase an extra ticket. And again, if you want to see any premium sort of movie (IMAX, 3D, etc.) you have to shell out extra money as well. One small thing working in your favor, at least at AMC, is the Stubs card (which also comes with a yearly subscription fee) which allows you to rack up points that eventually work towards free money. So every time you use your Moviepass to buy a ticket, those points rack up, even though, technically, you’re not actually spending money. So the more movies you go to under Moviepass, the more points you rack up with AMC Stubs, and with AMC Stubs’ new benefits, like the private concession lines, it really does become worth it if you’re seeing enough movies.

One other thing that is slightly working against it, at least in Los Angeles, is that it doesn’t work at a few of the theaters in the city. It works at AMC, Laemmle, Pacific, and Regal, which constitutes for most of the chains in the city, but it does not work at Arclight and Landmark, which just happen to be some of the nicer theaters in town and usually carry the limited release titles, sometimes for a few weeks before they hit bigger chains. So to see certain movies that aren’t available yet, again, you’re shelling out more money for tickets. Moviepass also does not allow you to buy tickets online, as you have to be present at the theater to actually purchase anything. That paired with not being able to buy multiple tickets and trying to coordinate a viewing with a friend, especially when it comes to reserved seating, becomes almost impossible.

So for those of you that do not have the service yet but see tons of movies, you could save yourself tons of money by investing in this service, as I did for a few years. But now that I’m not getting to the theater as much, and picking up things like cable, since I’m at home so much more now, I start to wonder if it’s still worth it to me. The last few months, I’ve only seen one or two films in the theater and a few of those were ones I paid for at the theaters where Moviepass doesn’t work. So, until I start getting out to more movies again (and start getting sleep again to even warrant leaving the house to see a movie) I may have to put the membership on hold. But, if you were to look back at all the movies I’ve seen using Moviepass, I would be willing to bet I’m still very much ahead as far as the cost goes, when you consider that some months, I would seriously see upwards of 10 movies in theater ($160+ if I were buying the tickets, $45-$50 a month with the subscription).

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