MoviePass claims to offer unlimited movie tickets for one low monthly price. Is it too good to be true? We answer that question in our MoviePass review.
According to the National Theater Owner’s Association, the average price of a movie theater ticket was $8.84 as of the first quarter of 2017. If you live in a metropolitan area, you know the real price you’ll pay is more like $12. That kind of pricing keeps a lot of people from going to the movies more often. But there might be a workaround in the form of a smartphone app.
That app is MoviePass. It’s a movie theater subscription service that you access from your smartphone. It is the largest movie theater subscription service available, giving subscribers access to over 4,000 movie theaters and more than 36,000 movie screens. They advertise that the service is available in all major movie theaters (though there’s some doubt about AMC).
What’s more, the subscription is virtually unlimited. You can watch one new 2D movie each day of the month, with no blackout dates.
MoviePass was founded by CEO Mitch Lowe, of Netflix and Redbox fame. He’s taking the same concept from those companies but applying it to actual movie theaters. MoviePass enables the participant to watch movies at theaters up to 31 times per month–all for a very low monthly fee of $9.95 per month.
The MoviePass card itself is actually a credit card–a MasterCard, to be precise. When you go to the theater, you pay for your ticket using the card just the way you would any other credit card.
With an average movie ticket at $12, you can see up to 31 movies per month–at a total cost of $372–all for a monthly fee of less than $10. That, of course, is extreme, but you could if you wanted to.
But, even if you only go to the movies no more than two or three times per month, at a cost of $24 or $36, you would still save $14 or $26 per month using this app (the actual cost of the movie tickets, less the $9.95 subscription fee you’ll pay to MoviePass).
Signing Up for MoviePass
You can sign up for MoviePass online or with your smartphone. But you must have an iPhone or an Android (with data service) in order to use it.
You will receive your MoviePass card by mail within seven to 10 business days after signing up. Once the card arrives in the mail, you can log into the MoviePass app with your email and a password. The app will request the last four digits of your MoviePass card in a pop-up box. Once you enter that information, your subscription will be fully activated, and your billing date will be set.
The monthly subscription fee is $9.95. The service offers only one person per app. So if you want to add family members, each will have to subscribe to the app individually. Also, memberships are nontransferable. Only you can use your subscription.
You must put a credit card on file, which MoviePass will charge on each monthly billing date.
How MoviePass Works
Once you receive your MoviePass card, you can begin using the app to browse theaters and showtimes. You can only use the app for same-day tickets. You are not able to purchase your tickets in advance.
Your MoviePass card is your payment method when you go to the theater. The card is actually a MasterCard, which is how the theater will be paid. That means you must have the card with you whenever you go to the theater. You can pay and get your ticket at the box office or kiosk.
The app works in five steps:
- When you arrive at the theater, browse movies and showtimes on the MoviePass app.
- Once you’ve found the movie you want, click the desired showtime. Then, at the bottom of the screen, click “Check-In.”
- Upon check-in, your MoviePass will be activated for 30 minutes. Just swipe it at the box office or kiosk to purchase your ticket.
- For e-ticketing theaters (see below), once you check-in, your app will generate a confirmation code that you can present at the kiosk or box office to retrieve your ticket.
- Enjoy the show!
Canceling check-in. If you change your mind and decide you don’t want to watch a movie, or if it is sold out, you can cancel right on the app. You can press the “Sold Out? Changed Mind?” button on the Check-In page. Once done, you can check into a different movie.
More MoviePass Features
E-ticketing. MoviePass has this function with several theater chains, including Goodrich Quality Theaters, Studio Movie Grill, and MJR Theatres. E-ticketing is a redemption process that enables you to reserve your same-day ticket in the app before arriving at the theater. At theaters that also offer reserved seating, e-ticketing will enable you to select your seat in advance.
Gift Subscriptions. If you want to give the gift of movies, you can purchase a gift subscription through the app. You must pay for gift subscriptions in advance, and they are available on the following terms:
- three months at $29.85
- six months at $59.70
- 12 months at $119.40.
Canceling your MoviePass subscription: If after subscribing to the app, you decide that you want to cancel, you can do it easily. On the home screen, click the icon with the three horizontal lines in the upper left-hand corner. From the dropdown menu, select your name. On the “Subscription Information” screen, select “Plan Info”, then click “Cancel Account.” The cancellation will take effect on your next billing date.
MoviePass Partnership with Studio Movie Grill
MoviePass has partnered with Studio Movie Grill in testing and Open Tab feature. It will enable you to pay for your movie ticket as well as your in-theater meal and drinks using the MoviePass app. This is a beta program, so it may or may not be available at your local Studio Movie Grill theater.
Studio Movie Grill is offering its guests a limited one-month trial of MoviePass for $10. It will similarly allow the holder to attend one movie per day in its theaters for an entire month. It must be purchased only at Studio Movie Grill locations.
The MoviePass – Studio Movie Grill partnership is significant because MoviePass is actively working to increase such partnerships with other movie theater chains. Studio Movie Grill, for its part, expects to increase attendance through the partnership.
In Case You’re Wondering How MoviePass Makes Money…
If you’re like me, and you stumble across a winning service, you want to know that the provider is making a profit. After all, if they aren’t, the winning service won’t be around for very long.
On the surface at least, it looks as if there’s no way that MoviePass can ever be profitable. But look a little deeper, and it begins to make sense.
Let’s say that you are a certified movie maven, who actually does go to the movies every day of the month. How can MoviePass make money when you’re paying just $9.95 per month, and they are paying $372 (31 movies X $12 per ticket) to theaters for you to watch 31 movies?
Answer: they’re not. At least not on you.
But according to founder and CEO Mitch Lowe, the “secret” is in the numbers. They know the average person only goes to the movies three to six times per year. They believe that the MoviePass app will increase that to six to 12 times.
At an average frequency of 9 times per year–at $12 per movie ticket–that’s $108 MoviePass has to pay out to theaters. With an annual subscription rate of about $120, MoviePass will earn an average of 10% ($12) on each subscription.
Lowe is also working to create more true movie theater partnerships, such as the one they are currently working on with Studio Movie Grill. The increased frequency of theater visits by MoviePass users generates higher concessions sales, enabling the theaters to increase their profits. MoviePass is working to get a part of those profits through partnerships.
- If you go to the movies two or more times in a typical month, MoviePass will be well worth the price of $9.95 per month.
- If you’ve been avoiding the movies due to cost, MoviePass will enable you to go more frequently. In fact, cost will no longer be a factor, at least as far as movie tickets.
- Ordering movie tickets through your smartphone avoids the need to stand in line waiting to purchase a ticket. This can be a major advantage at peak movie times or for blockbuster movies that draw big crowds.
- The widespread acceptance of MoviePass, as well as the partnerships with select theater chains, holds the potential for the expansion of the app going forward. It could revolutionize the movie theater process, and you’d be on the cutting edge if you already have the app.
- MoviePass is available for 2D movies only. It is not available for enhanced or special screenings that might involve an up charge by the theater. This includes movies in 3D, IMAX, Fathom Events, DBOX, ETX/RPX, or film festivals.
- Unless the theater offers e-ticketing, you have to be at the theater to order your ticket.
- Not all theaters or theater chains participate in MoviePass.
- Since you must be at the theater (or within 100 yards of it) where the movie you want to see is showing, you won’t know in advance if the movie has been sold out. But that would happen even if you didn’t have MoviePass.
- Since a subscription can be used for one person only, you would need to have a subscription for each person in the family. The app would cost $39.80 per month for a family of four.
Should You Sign Up with MoviePass?
MoviePass is definitely worth considering if you are a frequent moviegoer, or you want to become one. It can reduce the cost of going to the movies several times per month to less than the cost of a ticket for a single show.
If you’re not a frequent moviegoer, even apart from the cost factor, MoviePass won’t be much of a benefit. For example, if you typically go to the movies less than once a month, the subscription may cost you more than the benefit that you’re getting.
The fact that you need to purchase a subscription for each member of your family could be cost prohibitive. However, if you have children who are at the age where going to the movies is a favorite pastime, this can enable you to bring them as often as you like. The cost of going to the movies will no longer be a factor.
If you’d like more information, or if you’d like to sign up for the app, check out the MoviePass website.
Published or updated December 11, 2017.