The video below illustrates this paragraph if you’d rather watch than read how it works. To use MoviePass, you open the app and find the movie show time you want. You can browse or search by movie or theater. Once you’ve decided what movie you’re going to, you have to technically purchase the ticket at the theater. I say “technically,” because even though you’re the one making the purchase, MoviePass is picking up the tab. Go to the theater and verify that tickets are available for the show you want to see. Open the app, find the show time and tap it to check in. A screen will appear with the details to verify. When you confirm, your app my ask permission to use your location, because you have to be within 100 yards of the venue to activate your card. Wait a few seconds for confirmation that your card is activated; the confirmation screen will also remind you what your home zip code is in case the kiosk prompts you for it. You’ll then have 30 minutes to purchase the ticket at a kiosk. Make the purchase the same way you would make a credit card purchase (you can even earn points for a theater loyalty plan) and that’s it. Not every purchase went 100% smoothly, but customer service always sorted it out without a fuss. I know this seems convoluted, but it’s actually much simpler in practice.
When I signed up for MoviePass, it was also described as a “Beta” service, so I was prepared for various quirks and adjustments along the way. At the time, you couldn’t just join, you had to sign up to an invite list on MoviePass‘ website and wait for a reply. I wound up being the only one I knew to sign up. Most agreed (myself included) that it seemed too good to be true. After reading some coverage on the service online, I decided to take one for the team and chance that it wasn’t some scam to harvest e-mail addresses or credit card details. I was able to snag an invite to skip the waiting list (from LifeHacker).
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.
For todays #ThrowbackThursday, here’s a video interview on TechCrunch TV with MoviePass CEO Stacy Spikes from about a year ago. Does any of MoviePass’ users think they have come closer to the product he describes here or further away from it in the past year? In light of the introduction of the Countdown Clock, the section from 4:10-5:05 sounds especially hypocritical.
MoviePass recently introduced their “Countdown Clock” to limit movie viewing to one movie per 24 hour period beginning from the start time of the last movie you watched. What they didn’t tell you was this part:
This was clearly an inconvenience from the moment I read about it in the announcement. However, I decided to give it a chance and see if MoviePass‘ continuing claim of being able to see a movie a day holds up. Obviously it can’t, because movie theaters aren’t open 24 hours a day, but I figured I would try it and see how long it would take before I missed a day. Even if I could pull it off, I’ve already had to reorganize my life around movie going in this effort (currently on day 11 & counting), which isn’t really the point of a relaxing hobby. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Since I’ll be posting a few articles on the MoviePass service, here’s some demographic info to put my observations in context. If you’re considering signing up for MoviePass, hopefully this information will help you make an informed decision. If you’re already a MoviePass member, feel free to share your details for comparison in the comments. I have no relationship or involvement with MoviePass in any way other than as a paying user of their service.