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MoviePass: Too good to be true or ideal college student deal?

Views 66 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 2 - 6 - 2018 | By: Olivia Stowell

Movie subscription service MoviePass launched in 2011, but it took a recent revamp of their pricing model to bring them to the mainstage of the cultural conversation. Their offer: a $9.95 monthly subscription fee in exchange for a single movie ticket per day for every day of the month with no blackout dates. It seems too good to be true--in theory, you could pay about $10 to see 30 movies a month. But it’s not a scam; with over 4,000 theatres and 1.5 million subscribers, MoviePass is becoming something of a phenomenon.

MoviePass works by sending its subscribers a prepaid debit card. Using the service’s app, subscribers check in to a theatre for a specific film and showing, and pay using their MoviePass card. However, there are a few restrictions. MoviePass only works at certain theatres, only applies to standard 2D movies, and you can’t buy more than one ticket or purchase tickets in advance--in fact, you have to be within 100 yards of the theatre to even activate the card.

Despite some cinema companies, such as AMC, pushing back against MoviePass’s business model, the benefits seem to outweigh the drawbacks. With most ticket prices in Santa Barbara priced at around $7-10, a Westmont student using the service could make their investment worth it with only two trips to the theatre per month. Currently, almost every theatre in town takes MoviePass, including the Plaza De Oro and the Riviera, making even independent films accessible on a budget.

Movie buffs may worry that they’re ripping off local theatres, but MoviePass buys tickets directly from theatres, at whatever price the theatre lists. Additionally, most theatres make their largest profits off popcorn, drinks, and other snacks, and if MoviePass gets more customers through the door by making the movies more accessible, it could potentially even increase the profits of local theatres.

Junior Hannah Krieshok calls subscribing to MoviePass “one of the best investments [she’s] ever made,” citing the low price point and how quickly the subscription pays itself off. “The one bummer about it is that you can’t buy tickets in advance, and sometimes for me the app doesn’t load for a minute, so I can feel a little rushed at the ticket stand,” Krieshok says, “But seeing movies is one of my favorite ways to spend my time, and with MoviePass I feel much more free to go and see all the movies I want!”

MoviePass has also begun to co-acquire films alongside other distributors through its new division, MoviePass Ventures, purchasing its first film (Bart Layton’s American Animals) alongside The Orchard at Sundance last month. In a January 22 interview with Deadline, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe also suggested that an upcoming update to the service may include “options to buy tickets for a friend at a discounted rate as well as the ability for groups to purchase tickets.”

From its distribution ambitions to its expanding services, MoviePass seems poised to become a larger and larger player in the film industry. For now, it’s a great deal for college students with the time to see a movie or two (or thirty!) a month.


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