Update: According to Variety, none of the theatres included in the beta have agreed to back the subscription, which means that MoviePass could be dead in the water before it even starts.
There’s no question that Netflix has had a pretty big influence on the way that entertainment is being consumed in the digital age. With the proliferation of the “long tail” (ie. more niche content finding an audience due to ease of distribution), the idea of offering access to a massive library of titles for a single subscription fee is very tempting to a lot of people. While you might assume that such a model can only be possible through the magic of digital distribution, the idea is starting to spread to other retail areas as well. This week a company called MoviePass will be launching a similar service for theatrical screenings. For $50 a month, you can see as many movies on the big screen as you want. Does this sound like something you might be interested in?
MoviePass will be starting a private beta in the San Francisco Bay area this weekend at 21 different locations. From there, it will continue rolling out to other U.S. cities, and they hope to offer their services at 40% of American theatres by the fall. It seems like it should be an easy sell for most theatre owners, since they make the majority of their money on concession sales.
The bigger question here is whether or not there are enough consumers out there who can and will take advantage of this. At $50 a month, you’d have to be seeing more than a movie a week to make it worth your while, and considering that there are usually only 2 or 3 major releases in a given weekend, you’d probably end up watching a lot of things you don’t want to see. There is also a $3 surcharge for every 3-D or Imax screening that you attend. I can see this being something that parents buy their kids for the summer just to keep them occupied, but overall, unless you live in a big city with access to all of the smaller releases as well, it’s probably not going to appeal to a large audience. What do you think, does the MoviePass subscription model sound like a fair deal, and is it something you can see taking off?