A little more than a year after its launch fizzled, MoviePass is back. This time, the self-described unlimited movie-watching service has gone digital, launching a smartphone app today backed by investors that include WME and AOL Ventures. The so-far iPhone-only app allows moviegoers to reserve tickets which they then pay for and pick up at theaters using a pre-paid membership card that acts like a credit card. The monthly price for the currently invite-only service is about $29.99 depending on where you live and ticket prices in that area. But like last time, the program is not “unlimited” and is moving forward without the backing of major exhibitor chains.
MoviePass is back, this time with a new partner. The upstart ticket service tried to launch in June, with a plan to offer consumers admission to unlimited movies in a calendar month for a $50 pass. That kickoff fizzled before it began, however, when exhibitors AMC and Landmark balked at the idea and said they hadn’t been consulted. MoviePass today announced it will relaunch, but this time it will offer the packages through Hollywood Movie Money, a 25-year-old movie ticket promotions firm that has established relationships with exhibitors and the studios, and roughly 36,000 screens in its network. The new launch is targeted for mid-September, and there will be some changes, a MoviePass spokesman told Deadline. The biggest will be that rather than a flat $50 fee, users would pay a monthly fee based on the average ticket price in the region. Users will be able to subscribe to the monthly service at www.moviepass.com.
UPDATE: MoviePass Gets Its Ticket Punched As Trial Launch Is Canceled After Two Movie Chains Give It Thumbs Down
UPDATE, 7:12 PM: Reps for MoviePass confirm they have thrown in the towel and canceled their test run in San Francisco this weekend. They say this is on a “temporary hiatus,” but I doubt we’ll see this service up and running again particularly since it’s clear two major theater chains don’t want it. That Moviepass counted six AMC theaters in its test run without actually getting clearance from that chain or from Landmark, probably qualifies this as one of the most boneheaded stillborn launches in recent entertainment history.
PREVIOUS: Hollywood doesn’t like to let newcomers into its exclusive club. When a couple of companies tried to sell sell futures based on box office movie grosses, the MPAA used its lobbying might to crush the ventures in DC. Netflix is one of the few interlopers that managed to create a niche for itself in the Hollywood infrastructure, helped by the indisputable fact it was providing a new revenue source at a time when DVD revenues went in the crapper. So it’s not surprising that an upstart service like MoviePass is having so many problems as it tries to test out a service that was to start this weekend in San Francisco. The plan was to charge $50 a month for passes that allowed buyers to see as many movies as they wanted in a calendar month. Stacy Spikes, one of the execs who formed the venture, seemed crestfallen this evening; on the eve of the test program, AMC and Landmark both said they hadn’t been informed about it, wanted no part of it and even seemed to scoff at it.
Kansas City, Mo. (June 30, 2011) – AMC Theatres® (AMC), a leading theatrical exhibition and entertainment company, today announced it will not participate in the beta test of MoviePass, an initiative launching this weekend in the San Francisco area.
“Plans for this program were developed without AMC’s knowledge or input,” said Stephen Colanero, chief marketing officer at AMC Theatres. “As MoviePass is currently designed, it does not integrate well into our programs and could create significant guest experience issues.”
Some concerns with the program include AMC Stubs members’ ability to receive credit when purchasing a MoviePass. AMC Stubs, the company’s rewards program, was rolled out in April 2011 and rewards participants for ticket and concessions purchases.
“As MoviePass was created without AMC’s input and testing, we cannot confidently say the guest experience would be positive for our guests and specifically our AMC Stubs members,” said Colanero. “We were surprised to see the press release and subsequent press coverage of MoviePass earlier this week as it included several of our San Francisco locations. It was news to us to see that we were participants and we will be communicating to those theatres they are not to accept MoviePass.”