What is MoviePass?

If you already know what MoviePass is and just came here to find out if it’s worth it, the short answer is no. As of this writing, I cannot recommend MoviePass. While it’s a great concept that shows a lot of potential and, despite some quirks, was implemented pretty well, poor decisions by management seem to indicate a fundamental lack of understanding of their customer base and consumer culture in general, as well as confusion as to what their long term business goals are. If you want to know what qualifies me to make said conclusions, read this. If you want more details as to how I arrived at these conclusions, keep reading.

So, what is MoviePass? According to them, MoviePass provides unlimited viewing of theatrical movies for one low monthly price. Saying they provide “unlimited viewing” is less a statement of fact and more of an aspiration. At least, I thought that was their goal, until a recent policy change limiting your ticket buying time (the so-called “Countdown Clock“) went into effect. Yes, you do get to see a good amount of movies for one low monthly price, but it’s hardly unlimited. Here’s a list of the limits in effect when I signed up:

  • No 3D movies
  • No large format movies (IMAX, RPX, etc.)
  • You can only see each movie once
  • You can only see one movie a day *
    • *(This was the case prior to October 31, 2013. On that date, MoviePass instituted the Countdown Clock, limiting members to buying one ticket every 24 hours, beginning from the showtime of the last ticket purchased.)
  • You can only purchase your ticket on the day of the show
  • You can only purchase your ticket at the theater, from a kiosk (not a ticket window or box office)
  • You can only buy tickets for movies and show times listed in the MoviePass app

Man, that’s a lot of restrictions for something described as “unlimited,” huh? Depending on where you live, the restrictions above combined with market conditions beyond the control of MoviePass may create additional limitations that may not be evident at first. I get into that here. At some point, MoviePass also started selling DVDs and Blu-Rays for home use, but their sales model is kind of quirky: if you try to check into a movie you’ve already seen, the app will present you with an offer to buy a DVD/Blu-Ray of the movie. I discovered this little promoted feature practically by accident; since I have never used it, I won’t offer more than cursory insights into that aspect of MoviePass‘ business.

MoviePass DVD/BluRay splash page offer examples
On the strength of these Bruce Willis efforts, I chose not to see RED 2.

Also be sure to check out the other articles in my series on MoviePass:

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