MoviePass is getting another chance. It’s been three years since the subscription theatergoing service was liquidated in bankruptcy, but over Labor Day weekend it will return just in time for the fall movie season.
Starting August 25, with a waitlist posted at 9 a.m. ET, cinephiles can sign up for the beta version of the new model. The waitlist will only be open for five days, with free registration on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants will be notified on Labor Day if they’re accepted for one of three subscription price tiers, with $10, $20, and $30 options.
Each subscription option provides credits to cash in each month to see movies, but unlike MoviePass in its $9.99-per-month glory days, there is no option for unlimited viewing. That model inspired top movie chain AMC Theatres to announce in August 2017 that it would stop participating in the program. In a press release explaining the move, AMC noted “it is not yet known how to turn lead into gold… In AMC’s view, that price level is unsustainable and only sets up consumers for ultimate disappointment.”
The rise and fall of MoviePass is a long-documented fascination, with founder and former Miramax executive Stacy Spikes booted as CEO in 2018. The tide turned that year after an acquisition of the company led to theater chains launching similar services, slashing MoviePass subscribers by almost 90 percent before its shutdown in 2019.
Although MoviePass generated heavy media attention as a disruptor — Mark Wahlberg’s Unrealistic Ideas production company is currently developing a MoviePass documentary — theaters did not embrace it. The service saw its greatest impact in New York City, followed by other major cities and in specialized situations. It also came before top chains finalized their own plans for in-house membership programs. Today, programs like AMC Stubs are well established and MoviePass presumably would be viewed a competitor.
Contacted to ask if it would participate in the new program, AMC had no comment. Regal, the #2 chain in the U.S., is expected to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy through its London-based corporate parent Cineworld.
Spikes told IndieWire earlier this year that MoviePass is the “Airbnb to the movie industry,” where distributors like A24 can “speak directly and engage with consumers directly and easily.”
He promised that the new MoviePass platform will balance the preferences of exhibitors, studios, and consumers, citing an Audible-like user experience with an option to roll over or purchase new credits, curbing the “unlimited” promise that the “old MoviePass” issued.
In a February presentation, Spikes said the tiered plan will “let different people play at different levels” and customize their own MoviePass experience.
However, “we’re going to make mistakes,” Spikes said of the beta testing. “We’re not going to get it right out of the box. It’s going to be trial and error.”
Tom Brueggemann contributed to this report.