MoviePass to Offer Unlimited Theatrical Screenings for a Monthly Subscription (UPDATED)

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?

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  • Kasper

    Doesn’t sound appealing at all. I go between 1 – 2 times a month usually, so this would be money out the window. Especially considering 3D and IMAX cost extra and I’m usually forced to watch 3D.

  • Tomoo

    It sounds pretty cool but $50 a month sounds a bit steep especially considering they still get to charge you for 3D.

  • http://twitter.com/xaItchyfinger Itchy-finger

    “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 summed it up perfectly, $50 is too much to ask for the pass you are going to be paying more for the pass than you would buying tickets.
    I could see paying $25, plus I want to be able to walk right in and not have to worry about ticket lines.

  • http://www.seandwyer.net Sean

    I think they do offer a way to order your tickets ahead of time via a smartphone app so that you don’t have to wait in line.

  • milath

    If it takes off, this should have interesting effects on weekend box office numbers.

    I wonder how they will propose to measure it? Admissions? Would each movie seen count as a full price ticket? Especially since someone may go see many more movies per month than $50 dollars might cover…

    Should be interesting.

  • rob

    if they integrated some sort of guest system this would be much more appealing, otherwise you’d likely end up going on your own half the time!

    the price needs to be competing with the netflix prices – obviously more expensive as the films are newer and in a cinema, what are they charging the 3D for? now that the cinemas have installed the digital projectors surely it is now cheaper than using the film projectors? If you brought your own glasses then they should not be charging

  • KeithTalent

    Interesting concept and for the $12+ ticket cost for evening screenings around here, it’s a pretty good deal. However there are already several ways to get cheaper tickets, so I’d have to go see ~2 movies per week to make it worthwhile and I’m not sure I could swing that consistently, particularly if it is restricted to only the big theatres.

    It would need some tweaking to meet my needs.

  • Matt

    I think the $50/month is geared towards movie theaters that have a higher ticket price. EX: my local theater’s evening screenings are $9 and matinee screenings are $7.50. If they would drop the price down to $30/month I would be on board.

  • http://.com Matt Gamble

    what are they charging the 3D for? now that the cinemas have installed the digital projectors surely it is now cheaper than using the film projectors? If you brought your own glasses then they should not be charging</b

  • http://wherethelongtailends.com Matt Gamble

    what are they charging the 3D for? now that the cinemas have installed the digital projectors surely it is now cheaper than using the film projectors? If you brought your own glasses then they should not be charging

    It costs more to produce a 3D film then a 2D film. The money goes straight to the studios and the companies that own the 3D systems (Dolby/RealD/IMAX). The theatre isn’t making a dime off of it.

  • http://wherethelongtailends.com Matt Gamble

    It should also be noted that I find the epic fail of this venture to be incredibly amusing.

  • scottydgibbs

    Here in the united kingdom, for years, Cineworld cinemas, whom were once UGC, have had a monthly pass, at this time 2011, the price is £14.00 a month. this consists of any film any time and as many times throughout day/week/month you want to see a film, exclusions are, no getting tickets for films that are playing at the same time(naturally you wont be seeing 2 at same time, and another reason would be passing ticket off to someone else. a aditional £1.50 is required for any 3D film watched. these are only catches i can see. this is well worth it and even though i dont likve in city where my local cineworld is, its worth going in once a week and fitting at least 3 or 4 films, averaging 16 a month. add to this this theatre chain has indie and foreign releases, win win, submarine beginners, examples lately, this is a amazing offer and cineworld is one of the leading cinema chains in the u.k. they also leaded the way in some way to dinstalling digital screens, so that also a advantage.

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