Yesterday I stumbled across what seemed to be a too good to be true deal. $9.95/month for unlimited movies in theaters (up to 1x per day), useable at all major theatre chains (which covers 91% of US based theaters). MoviePass has been around for awhile offering consumers a similar deal, but closer to $30-$50/month which can still be a good deal for movie going enthusiasts. But at $9.95/month, it’s downright a steal. My skepticism certainly kicked in, but felt it was definitely worth the risk, especially seeing there was no long term obligation. MoviePass got hammered yesterday with interest, and it took me quite a few tries to wrestle with their app and website to get myself and wife signed up, but I was successful…or so it seems. Time will tell if we actually get our cards in the mail and are able to actually use the service.
What’s more interesting is the backlash that has come from the biggest movie chain in the industry, AMC. They don’t want anything to do with this new pricing model.
“From what we can tell, by definition and absent some other form of other compensation, MoviePass will be losing money on every subscriber seeing two movies or more in a month…
While AMC is not opposed to subscription programs generally, the one envisioned by MoviePass is not one AMC can embrace. We are actively working now to determine whether it may be feasible to opt out and not participate in this shaky and unsustainable program.”
Now whether MoviePass can build a sustainable business model at this pricing structure remains to be seen. It’s clear they have a plan in place in wanting to build a large subscriber base right out of the gate similar to companies like Netflix. They’re also funding this offer by funding the venture with $27 million it’s getting by selling a 51 percent stake to data firm Helios and Matheson Analytics. Don’t be surprised if your viewing habits become fair game. IMO, a worthy tradeoff for such an incredible deal.
What’s most interesting to me about this whole thing is yet another example of an old school company refusing to accept a changing market. Fewer and fewer people are going to the movies. It’s no big surprise. Home theatre technology continues to innovate giving people a theatre like experience at home. Skyrocketing ticket costs and obscene concession prices turn people away. Not to mention most people’s reluctance to the theatre going experience (cell phones, incessant advertising, etc.). It all adds up to droves of people not showing up anymore.
While I don’t think movie theaters will go away entirely, it’s clear they will consolidate and we’ll find less of them. I think there will always be a place for major releases and people’s desire to experience big movies in big places, but for the most part, I believe 10-20 years from now the movie theatre landscape will be similar to the movie rental one. Most of us will be watching content from the comfort of our own homes, and the fact that AMC is so blind to that fate and can’t get on board with the idea of any sort of concept that may save their business is…well quite frankly, bad business.
Brick and mortar is a slowly dying breed of business. Companies that don’t embrace an evolving online based economy will be on the outside looking in.