MoviePass returns with a new beta application, subscription plans

Arianne Gonzalez, Arts & Culture Editor

MoviePass rolled out a new beta application on Aug. 29, setting it up for an official relaunch on Sept. 5.

The new application for the movie ticket subscription service is available through invite only after the waitlist closed, according to the service’s website.

“All who join the waitlist will receive priority access to the service and 10 friend invites,” the website read originally. Now, the only way to get access is to be invited from an already active user.

MoviePass was founded in 2011 by Stacy Spikes and Hamet Watt. Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc., or HMNY, purchased the service in 2017 and put it under the management of HMNY CEO Ted Farnsworth and new MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe.

MoviePass gained traction when it lowered its monthly prices to $10 and let users view up to one movie a day. Subscriptions skyrocketed to 3 million in less than a year.

Lower prices created concern as the company was losing money, to a point when it was forced to borrow $5 million to pay its bills, as per The New York Times. MoviePass founder Spikes was fired in 2018.

The company shut down initially in September 2019 with no assurances for a return. A corresponding HMNY statement admitted it was “unable to predict if or when” MoviePass would continue.

Both MoviePass and HMNY filed for bankruptcy in 2020, according to CNN. In a turnaround, Spikes bought back MoviePass last November.

“We are thrilled to have it back and are exploring the possibility of relaunching soon,” Spikes told Insider after the purchase. “Our pursuit to reclaim the brand was encouraged by the continued interest from the moviegoing community. We believe, if done properly, theatrical subscription can play an instrumental role in lifting moviegoing attendance to new heights.”

The relaunched service will include three tiers of subscription plans, ranging from $10, $20 and $30 a month. Credits will also be given to subscribers, and the former MoviePass-branded debit card will return.

MoviePass used to pay full price for tickets at movie theaters, but according to Spikes, the service “negotiated partnerships with more than 25% of all the theaters,” ensuring it will have “40% market share outside of the big three.”

The “big three” includes AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., Regal Entertainment Group and Cinemark Holdings Inc. The three theater giants each have their own ticket-subscription service.

MoviePass also faces competition from streaming services and theaters recovering from pandemic-incurred losses.

A study found that only 14% of adults prefer seeing a movie for the first time in theaters, while 36% prefer to watch on a streaming service. Despite this, Spikes remains hopeful for the service’s relaunch.

“Moviegoing has always done really well during rough economies,” Spikes said. “People like to escape, and we think that the fact that times are hard is why a service that lets people get away and get back and helps the theater and the consumer at the same time is really important to launch right now.”