STOP ME IF you’ve heard this one: MoviePass, at this point the Benny Hill of subscription services, has re-re-reintroduced its unlimited plan. The latest iteration sounds a lot like the one that kicked off this tea-cup ride to begin with: For $10 per month—if you prepay for the year—MoviePass Uncapped members can see as many 2D moviesas they want, although that comes with a few healthy asterisks. It also marks the company’s seventh plan change in the last year and a half alone.
It’s hard if not impossible to say what kind of deal MoviePass Uncapped represents. Paying for 12 months of a service that seems perpetually on the brink of collapse seems like a risky bet; if you’d rather go month to month, the price ticks up to $15, and after an unspecified “limited time” it’ll go to $20.
It remains to be seen whether this is the unlimited MoviePass offering that finally, sustainably works. The company has tried, and jettisoned, and tried again, and dropped, and picked back up, many options up to this point.
June 27, 2011: MoviePass announces its plan for a new subscription service that will let film lovers watch as many movies as they want for $50 a month (with a $3 surcharge for 3D or IMAX). The “unlimited pass” is set to launch with a private beta in the San Francisco Bay Area that weekend.
June 30, 2011: Mere days later, MoviePass puts that beta plan on hold after AMC Theaters and other chains say they won’t participate and weren’t consulted beforehand. MoviePass will try again later that summer with a voucher system.
October 2, 2012: MoviePass announces it’s relaunching yet again, trading the voucher system for a sleek debit card that subscribers can use to get their tix. Of course, both are workarounds for the theater chains, who still aren’t too jazzed about the “Netflix but for movie theaters” mission. As reported by Variety, the pricing varies by market but averages out at $29.99 a month.
July 2016: Things stay relatively quiet for a few years, until MoviePass brings on a new CEO, Mitch Lowe, and a new pricing plan. The tiered system has more options for subscribers, with prices starting at $15 for two movies a month in small markets, up to $50 a month for an unlimited pass in major cities.
August 17, 2017: Here’s where things get interesting: MoviePass announces its infamous $9.95 a month unlimited plan, which WIRED’s Brian Barrett calls “at least halfway insane.” (Technically, it’s capped at 30 movies a month. Still good!) Again, chains like AMC are none too happy about the deal—but a deal it undeniably is, for consumers at least. The real question is how sustainable the business model would be.
April 13, 2018: MoviePass has had a heady few months at this point: Millions of new subscribers join in short order, and the company experiences plenty of growing pains to match. So when the 30-movies-a-month pass for $10 suddenly becomes a four-movies-a-month pass for $10, people notice. Weirdly, throwing in iHeartRadio All-Access music streaming as part of the “promotion” didn’t seem to help.
May 2, 2018: Never mind! The $10 monthly unlimited pass is back.
July 31, 2018: OK, so … about that $10 monthly unlimited pass. Now it’s going to be $15 a month, and also have some limits.
August 6, 2018: On second thought, back to $10, but this time you also only get three movies a month. (Some helpful context for this rollercoaster: MoviePass is hemorrhaging money, which is maybe not surprising when it’s spending $9.16 per ticket on average, for users paying a few dimes more than that per month.)
someone who is good at the economy please help me budget this. my family is dying
— wint (@dril) September 29, 2013
December 5, 2018: With a new year on the horizon and everyone else wondering how on earth they’re going to make this thing work, MoviePass announces—surprise!—a new pricing scheme. The market-based tiers of 2016 make a comeback, which as Barrett writes “will allow you to pay as little as $10 or as much as $25 per month for three movie tickets, depending on where you live and how many restrictions you can cope with.”
March 19, 2019: It’s back, baby: $9.95 a month for an experience that the MoviePass website describes as “uncapped,” “unrivaled,” and “unbelievable,” with periods after each word so you know it’s serious. It also comes, like we said, with plenty of caveats. Time will tell how truly “uncapped” MoviePass’s latest plan will prove to be for users. Unbelievable, on the other hand, feels like a more apt description.
This article first appeared in www.wired.com
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