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MoviePass Changes Its Mind, ‘Not Worried At All’ That The Subscription Service Will Survive

Helios & Matheson Analytics head Ted Farnsworth put a positive spin on last week's SEC filing, in which he called the business model "highly uncertain."

MoviePass

The chairman and CEO of MoviePass’ parent organization intensified concerns about the discount ticket service’s fate in a bleak SEC filing last week, but he now dismisses the “feeding frenzy of negativity.”

“I’m not worried at all,” said Helios & Matheson Analytics’ Ted Farnworth at Cannes this weekend (according to Variety), where he was promoting “Gotti,” the second feature in the months-old MoviePass Ventures film catalogue. “You’re going to see. We’re doing more acquisitions of movies and companies.”

As of April 16, Helios & Matheson owned almost 92 percent of MoviePass. In the May 8 SEC filing, the data firm reported that it had $15.5 million in cash and $27.9 million available through deposits from payment process vendors, but spends an average of $21.7 million per month (recent purchases include April’s $23 million acquisition of ticketing app/website Moviefone).

In the filing, Farnsworth called MoviePass’ business model “highly uncertain,” but at Cannes he boasted that MoviePass is privy to an additional $300 million via an equity line of credit. “We’ve got 17 months’ worth of cash without further raises of capital,” he said.

Helios & Matheson racked up $150.8 million in debt in 2017, a total that included the cost of buying MoviePass. At press time, Helios & Matheson’s stock price was 68¢, although on Thursday the stock took a 22 percent dive, closing at 61¢; the Manhattan-headquartered outfit has only had a lower end-of-day total once in its 21-year history.

Farnsworth also revealed that his company’s feud with the nation’s largest theater chain, AMC, continues. “They’re trying to put us out of business,” he said, charging that that AMC considers MoviePass as “a serious threat.” His latest consternation comes from AMC CEO Adam Arons’ proclamations made one week ago during a conference call with analysts.

Deadline quoted Aron saying that although subscription services can be “quite positive if they’re done rationally and intelligently” and “at a price that is sustainable,” “there is not enough money to spread around MoviePass and Hollywood studios and theater operators so that Hollywood can make quality movies and theaters can operate quality theaters.”

Although AMC and MoviePass collaborated on a two-year pilot program in Boston and Denver that launched in January 2015, between January 2018 and that April, MoviePass blocked subscribers from attending screenings at 10 busy AMC outposts. Lowe later told IndieWire that it took the measure only for research purposes, and it resulted in the loss of just six subscribers.

Additional reporting by Chris O’Falt.

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