MoviePass, the beleaguered startup that aimed to revolutionize seeing movies at the theater (and sort of did, indirectly) is back. After bankruptcy, a pandemic that shut down movie theaters anyway, and an acquisition, it’s taking another crack at the subscription model. Here’s what we know about MoviePass 2.0.
What Happened to the Old MoviePass?
In case you’re not up to speed, here’s the short version: For several years, MoviePass offered a simple subscription for watching movies in theaters. The company experimented with different models, such as $15/month for a couple of movies, or $40 to $50 per month for unlimited movies.
Then, in 2018, the company made a bold, absurd change: up to a movie every day for $10 a month. In many parts of the country, that’s less than the price of a single movie ticket. And MoviePass was paying full price to theaters for every ticket. Millions of users signed up, and why wouldn’t they? It was essentially free money from MoviePass.
The plan didn’t go well. Over time, MoviePass had to raise prices, customer support started languishing, and the company’s alternative plans to generate revenue fell through. Worse (for MoviePass, but great for us), theater chains themselves started offering their own subscriptions.
These were more financially viable, since theaters pay less to studios for tickets than MoviePass paid to theaters. Plus, even if theaters took a loss on ticket sales, they would still benefit from increased concessions revenue. (At one point, in an attempt to bring in revenue, MoviePass argued that it should get a cut of theaters’ concessions sales. This also didn’t go well.)
Eventually MoviePass went into bankruptcy, and one of the company’s cofounders, Stacy Spikes, bought back the company. Why is all this history relevant? Well, if you’re planning to sign up, it’s worth keeping in mind that this is yet another in a long line of attempted business models. It remains to be seen whether this one will work out.
How Do I Sign Up for MoviePass?
The current iteration of MoviePass (dubbed MoviePass Beta) is rolling out in stages—presumably to help mitigate a similar rush-and-crash that its predecessor experienced, which is certainly a risk factor, since the waitlist itself crashed the minute it went live). On August 25, 2022, the company opened up a waitlist for five days.
If you signed up for the waitlist during that window, you’re in line to get an invite to the new MoviePass. Once you’re in, you’ll get a cache of invites that you can send to your friends. If you missed the waitlist period, finding someone with one of these invites will be your best bet until around summer 2023.
MoviePass Beta isn’t launching in all markets at once. The company says that it’s gauging interest in different parts of the country based on how many people sign up for the waitlist in an area. Many major cities like Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, and Austin have already gained access. Prices will also vary somewhat based on what city you’re in, particularly in New York and California.