MoviePass Raising Prices, Blocking Blockbusters; Is It Still Worth It?
Somehow, MoviePass isn’t dead yet. After hitting rock bottom last week when the ticking service ran out of cash, the company was forced to borrow a $6.2 million loan to turn the app back on. Things only got worse from there as the service outages continued into Monday evening with even more issues – as of last night, there were apparently zero movies playing in the whole of New York City according to my app. Not great, Bob! As much as it’s seemed like these are final days of MoviePass, the company is still alive and kicking, and making some major changes to stay afloat.
If you have a MoviePass and are wondering whether it’s worth keeping your red card or canceling, perhaps the latest announcements will help. On Tuesday, Helios & Matheson, the company that owns the ticketing service, announced new measures they’re taking to make the service sustainable (via Yahoo). The biggest change is an increase in price: the current $9.95 standard monthly plan will increase to $14.95 a month. Current subscribers can expect this to take place within the next 30 days. But users won’t be able to see blockbusters with their MoviePass anymore.
According to the release, “First run movies opening on 1,000+ screens will be limited” in availability for the first two weeks of release, except those made available on a promotional basis. It’s unclear what “limited in availability” means; will these movies be completely removed from the app for the first two weeks, will it depend on location, or what? Based on what happened with Mission: Impossible – Fallout last weekend, which was completely unavailable to subscribers on the app and the first film included in this new change, it sounds like limited means totally blocked.
As Business Insider revealed, this weekend’s Christopher Robin and The Meg won’t be available either – and by the way, both of those movies are currently featured on the MoviePass app’s “Coming Soon” section; perhaps they ought to fix that. The company claims that limiting access to blockbusters is an effort to drive more audiences to smaller films and “bolster the indie film community.” That’s a great idea, but then why this past weekend were indie titles like Sorry To Bother You, Three Identical Strangers, and Blindspotting unavailable in multiple theaters on my app? And what happens when indie titles expand to wide release, as Blindspotting is next weekend?
Oh, and if you’re hoping the new surge pricing feature will go away, don’t get your hopes up. The company says there will be a “continued rollout and refinement” of Peak Pricing. It sounds absurd that users will still need to pay up to $8 extra to see supposed “in-demand” showtimes when the biggest in-demand titles won’t even be accessible to subscribers. There will likely be more changes on the way as well, as the release notes there will be an “implementation of additional tactics to prevent abuse of the MoviePass service.” How, exactly, are people abusing MoviePass when they can no longer see repeat viewings or even access the app properly, beats me.
That said, while I was considering canceling my subscription amid the recent madness, I’ll probably keep it to see how these changes pan out. I’m certainly willing to pay a higher monthly price to keep using MoviePass – even a monthly plan as high as $30 is worth it for an avid moviegoer living in an area like New York City, where the plan pays for itself after two films. That said, limiting wide releases is certainly going to upset many users, and if the app doesn’t iron out the kinks soon, more people are bound to flock to alternatives, like AMC’s new Stubs A-List or Sinemia. Will you keep your MoviePass? Let us know in the comments.
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