Three years ago, MoviePass bombed, cratering under a wall of debt and crushing a bevy of fans who longed for the card comapny to live up to its promise: a movie a day, for about 10 bucks a month. Any movie. Almost any theater. Was it too good to be true? Possibly. Within a year, it dwindled to almost no movies, almost no theaters and plenty of recriminations.
Now comes the sequel: MoviePass II. But, in what looks like an effort at manufactured exclusivity, membership is by “invitation” and the signup window to get one is rapidly closing. You have until Monday, August 29 at midnight. For now, at least. MoviePass says it will relaunch around Sept. 5.
Here’s a summary of what MoviePass was: When it launched in 2011, MoviePass holders got discounted movie theater tickets (though the theaters were paid for the full price of the ticket by MoviePass). In 2017, when it was taken over by a new team, MoviePass holders paid around $9.95 a month – and they could see a movie every day of the month.
That captivated around 3 million people who signed on. It also ushered in the final chapter of that version of MoviePass. It shut down in September 2019, and the leadup to shutdown was painful for MoviePass holders: they found themselves unable to use their cards at some of the top releases, at certain theaters, or at all; some cards were randomly deactivated (the Federal Trade Commission later got involved).
And here’s the elevator pitch of what MoviePass hopes to be now:
After being acquired out of bankruptcy by an original cofounder, Stacy Spikes, in late 2021, MoviePass is looking for a comeback. emailing former users and others this week to get in on the action. Other than the signup period, few details are available about how this will be structured. The company did say there will be pricing tiers of $10, $20 and $30, but not much beyond that, other than saying most movie theater chains will be on board.
But should you?
Thanks in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, the movie-going landscape is far different than it was in 2017. Many new films are available on streaming platforms, sometimes the same day they launch in theaters, and many movie fans now prefer to watching new features from the comfort of their living rooms. Blockbusters, like “Top Gun: Maverick” are still reserved for theaters only, but those are few and far between. And many major theater chains, including Cinemark (opens in new tab) and Regal, offer subscription models of their own.
At this point, asking for an invitation is free (other than giving up an email address, which MoviePass might already have had). When it comes to forking over actual money, we’d counsel caution – and we bet that anyone who went through the first round of MoviePass would agree.
Bob is a Senior Online Editor at Kiplinger.com. He has more than 40 years of experience in online, print and visual journalism. Bob has worked as an award-winning writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., market as well as at news organizations in New York, Michigan and California. Bob joined Kiplinger in 2016, bringing a wealth of expertise covering retail, entertainment, and money-saving trends and topics. He was one of the first journalists at a daily news organization to aggressively cover retail as a specialty, and has been lauded in the retail industry for his expertise. Bob has also been an adjunct and associate professor of print, online and visual journalism at Syracuse University and Ithaca College. He has a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a bachelor’s degree in communications and theater from Hope College.
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