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MoviePass – Does It Work?

mp2Several weeks ago I wrote about a new film subscription company called MoviePass, and my experience signing up for it. After using the service for a month I’m back with an update on how it works in actual usage.

Just to recap, for a flat $30-40 monthly fee (based on your home location) MoviePass allows you to see one movie in theatres every day. You’re issued a special credit card and must download an iPhone or Android app. After arriving at the theatre you check in using the app which uses GPS to confirm your location. After selecting the movie you want to see using your phone, MoviePass automatically adds the cost of the ticket to the credit card. After that you just go to the theatre kiosk or window and buy your ticket.

When I was college I went to the movies all the time. There was rarely a year where I hadn’t seen all the Best Picture nominees in the theatre. I’d sometimes go to movies back to back, and hoped to one day try a theatrical trifecta! One year I came up with a plan for a spring break movie marathon, seeing at least one movie every day for seven straight days — before coming up with a better way to spend spring break! When I got together with my future wife, she couldn’t comprehend the idea of someone going to see a movie alone — I couldn’t understand the idea of skipping a movie I wanted to see because no one else wanted to go. But even in my movie-going prime, I never did anything like what MoviePass allowed me to do the past few weeks!

During my first month I took full advantage of the service, seeing 14 movies! Assuming a $10 average ticket price, and subtracting my $35 subscription payment, that’s a savings of $105. Two things temper that amazing number. First, you soon realize that that savings will quickly be depleted if you buy popcorn and a drink every single time! Luckily after the first several movies my stomach decided the novelty of popcorn at the movies was wearing thin! Secondly, that amount of savings cannot be sustained. The first month you have MoviePass you can can choose from all the movies that were already in theatres when you signed up and all the movies that then open that month. After your first month, however, you’ve already seen everything and only have new weekly openings to look forward to. So if two movies open every week that I want to see, I’m only going to manage 8 movies a month from here on out — for a much less impressive $45 savings.

Once you manage your expectations on the money front, the next question is does it work. That answer is a resounding yes! I had no major problems seeing any movie the entire first month. The GPS-enabled app worked, no employee or kiosk ever questioned the special credit card, and it never failed to be accepted immediately. There are only two minor quibbles I can think of, and one doesn’t even relate directly to the company!

Several times I went to a showing during a slow period and the box office was closed and the person at the concession stand was the one selling tickets. Another time I went to a show with a family member. Both times I had to awkwardly buy a single ticket for me with one card. And then pay for the rest of my order with a second card. Not MoviePass’ fault, I know. But maybe an option to add your own money to the credit card would be a useful option. I could put $50 on the card, say, and anything I buy over the cost of my ticket is taken out of that. That would be a welcome convenience, but probably a hassle to implement.

mp3The second minor issue I had was the app was a bit slow. Several times I launched the app, waited, the default “MOVIES” tab would be selected, I would click “THEATRERS”, wait, and an ad would appear first. Not a big deal. But after closing the ad (and waiting some more) the app would always take me back to the “MOVIES” tab, necessitating another press of the “THEATERS” tab and more waiting until the screen I wanted originally finally appeared. All in all it was never more than a minute, but since everything else worked so well this one problem stuck out a bit!

There’s only one more issue to address before I can unequivocally recommend this service to you. Will you actually use it? I saw 14 movies in 30 days. How many people would do that? It’s going to be a bit like a gym membership — if you don’t go you’re throwing away money. The bare minimum number of movies you need to see each month is probably 4, assuming none are cheaper matinées. But even that number is too low, since if you’re only going to see the bare minimum you might as well stick with the flexibility of not being tied to a monthly commitment and just pay out of pocket instead.

So if you can’t see yourself going to at least 6 movies a month — none of which can be 3D yet, remember — you’re probably better off not using MoviePass. But for wannabe cinephiles, this is a no brainer!

Right now MoviePass is still requiring you to get on a waiting list or have an invitation before signing up. However, when signing up you’re given several invitations to give out. If MoviePass is something you’d really like to do (and you’ve read all the limitations and disclaimers from their website and my previous article) hit me up via email and I’ll hand out my invitations until they’re gone.

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