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Alamo Drafthouse Challenges MoviePass With Its Own Subscription Service

Alamo Season Pass will beta test this summer at the chain's Yonkers, New York location.

Alamo Drafthouse

AMC is not the only prominent theater chain wading into the monthly ticket subscription game as MoviePass scrambles. IndieWire confirms that Austin-headquartered Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will beta test its own Alamo Season Pass in Yonkers, NY. The Alamo Season Pass waitlist is currently accepting applicants; selected recipients will be notified later this summer.

“The beta test will be run exclusively at our Yonkers, NY location, with the first invites going out on July 18th,” wrote an Alamo Drafthouse spokesperson. “Our guests have been asking for quite some time for us to offer an affordable monthly subscription plan that allows for unlimited movies and the ability to reserve tickets in advance at Alamo Drafthouse. We plan to test a variety of models and pricing structures to see what works as a sustainable model. At this time there’s no firm timeline for a wider rollout to other Alamo Drafthouse locations, but when there is we’ll let our Alamo Victory loyalty members know first.”

Alamo Drafthouse declined to reveal how much those participating in the pilot program will pay per month, and whether individuals will be allowed to use their passes for repeat viewings or 3D films. The arthouse theater has 35 locations nationwide; Yonkers was the site of its first New York outpost, which opened five years ago. Unlike standard theaters, Alamo is revered for its food and drink offerings, and added atmospherics like bringing in musicians to provide the score for silent films.

On Wednesday, America’s largest cineplex chain, AMC, announced AMC Stubs A-List, a $19.95/month deal that will go live tomorrow as part of its established loyalty program. AMC Stubs A-List customers will be able to see up to three movies of their choice per week. The subscription costs twice as much as MoviePass, which is good for one film per day in more than 91 percent of U.S. theaters.

However, according to Business Insider, MoviePass’ parent company, Helios & Matheson Analytics [HMNY], lost $40 million in May, and projects $45 million in losses for June. In late January, HNMY traded for 9.15; currently the stock price is 29 cents, and the company reported $150.8 million in debt for 2017.

In an April 2018 SEC filing, HMNY chairman and CEO Ted Farnsworth dubbed the MoviePass business model “highly uncertain.” Since MoviePass pays theaters the full retail price for each ticket ordered by its members, the company loses money on every transaction in costly movie-going cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, where a large portion of its young customer base resides.

Founded in 1997, Alamo Drafthouse was sold by founders Tim and Karrie League in 2004. League returned six years later as the CEO of franchise operations. Late last year, he issued a series of apologies after two of the chain’s creative collaborators, Devin Faraci and Harry Knowles, were accused of sexual assault.

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