Back Row Thoughts: Do Not Pass Movies

As most of you know, the name of this blog is a slight misnomer. I’m not made of money, so I don’t exactly fork over full box office price for every movie I see. A year ago, I joined MoviePass when they began their $9.95 sale. It made complete sense. Unlimited movies for the monthly charge of what is (at least in Los Angeles), the matinee price for one.

It’s been well publicized over the last year that the MoviePass business model was unsustainable in its original form. Over the past few months they’ve tried introducing Peak Pricing, adding additional charges when popular screenings started filling up, Ticket Verification, where random (i.e. active) users had to take a picture of their ticket stubs to confirm they weren’t cheating the app, and blocking out popular movies entirely. This is why I didn’t get to see Mission: Impossible – Fallout until a week after its release, and why when I see Christopher Robin tonight it’ll be almost two weeks after release. [Edit: While there were screenings of Christopher Robin throughout the day on the app earlier today, right now, as I’m leaving work to go to the theatre, MoviePass has blocked all screenings for the remainder of the day. Thanks, assholes!]

Now, as everyone knows, MoviePass has settled on their latest “solution.” Effective today, the $9.95 price point will only allow for three movies per month, with discounts of $2-$5 on additional screenings. Rather than simply increasing the price for unlimited, they’ve decided this will be the one and only plan for the foreseeable future, a restriction so unpopular that they forced members to re-opt in to their subscription by their monthly renewal date (tomorrow for me) or cancel entirely.

This unfortunately means that I will have to be more judicious in the films I see going forward. I can mitigate the expenses somewhat, but it still pales in comparison to what I’m forced to give up. Under the old plan, I could conceivably see 365 movies in a year. Now, I can only watch 36. I’ve literally lost 90% of my value with no change in price. MoviePass justifies the three movie limit by saying that 85% of their members don’t see more than three movies in a month anyway. Fair enough, but when you have over three million users, you’re fully admitting that you’re screwing over at least 450,000 people. You’re inviting almost half a million people to seek other options (which I will be doing).

They could have raised the price, and I would have been okay with it. They could have capped at five movies a month, and that would have been tolerable, as it would still allow for one movie a week. They could offer higher discounts, and maybe I’d only gripe so much. I live in L.A. A $5 discount on a movie ticket will still have me paying more than most people in any other part of the country.

I’ve been begging MoviePass to reconsider on Facebook and Twitter for the last week, and I encourage you to do so as well, assuming you care. I’ll keep doing it, because the only way this latest bad idea stays in place is if we the consumers become complacent.

Still, in the meantime, you may notice fewer posts than normal, with new movies being rated well after their opening weekend. I apologize for that, but the situation is such that I have to cope with it and rebalance my finances. I’m still a member of MoviePass, because something is better than nothing, but I am decidedly NOT a merry man at the moment.

Join the conversation in the comments below! Your recommendations are more important than ever, so if you want me to see and rate a movie, say so!

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