There's no two ways around it: the combination of high ticket prices, awesome home theater setups and on-demand video services like Netflix and Redbox have devastated movie theater attendance. A new startup named MoviePass hopes to breathe some life into the gasping entertainment format with a new subscription-based model that offers unlimited movie tickets for a flat-rate monthly price.
Subscription pricing varies depending on your location but falls between $25 and $40 per month, with $30 being the average. Your subscription comes with a special MoviePass debit card, which works in conjunction with the geolocation abilities found in the newly released MoviePass iOS app. (An Android app is forthcoming.)
Once you've headed to the theater, you fire up the MoviePass app, which uses your phone's GPS to determine your location; the app only works within 100 yards of the theater and won't let you buy advance tickets to a movie. If you're inside the magic boundary, the app displays the theater's show listings and times. Pick one and the service loads the required amount of cash on the MoviePass debit card. You then hop in line and pay for the ticket using the MoviePass card as you would any other plastic payment option. The subscription doesn't cover 3D movies, however.
It's an interesting way to work around signing up movie theaters to participate, but for MoviePass to succeed as-is, it'll have to convince quite a few infrequent movie-watchers to subscribe to make up for the folks who will use the MoviePass service more frequently.
A line in the company's press release suggests the service may be angling for discounted rates from theaters going forward. MoviePass claims that its beta subscribers increased attendance by up to 64 percent and concession purchases by a whopping 123 percent, which should seem like music to struggling theater's ears. PandoDaily reports that previous movie subscription attempts by the group were met with resistance from theater owners who felt that an all-you-can-eat model damages traditional per-ticket pricing.
MoviePass is available nationwide, but it's only offering a limited number of subscriptions. Current members can invite up to 10 of their friends to the invite-only service, while those of us without connected pals will have to register at the MoviePass website and hold out hope for entry.