LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The subscription service that could bring major changes to the theater industry by allowing its users to attend unlimited movies went a step further this week by cutting its prices again and switching to an annual subscription.
MoviePass announced Friday it is cutting the price of its subscription plan by three dollars from $9.95 to $6.95 per month. However, there's a major catch. Customers will have to pay for the entire year upfront, which comes out to $89.95 per year.
Furthermore, if you want to cancel your subscription during those 12 months, you will not get a refund.
MoviePass has been controversial, coming at a time when theaters are grappling with declining attendance, the rise of streaming services such as Netflix, and a struggling film industry. MoviePass argues that it combats those issues by, for example, getting more audiences in to see lower-budget films they would otherwise not be willing to shell out full price for.
To try and deal with the slump, Regal Cinemas last month announced it would begin experimenting with surge pricing. The company will experiment with charging more for tickets during peak movie times and less at times when attendance tends to be lighter.
Critics have questioned how MoviePass' business model is sustainable: the company pays theaters full price for its users' tickets, essentially operating at what seems like a loss. MoviePass was purchased in October by data analytics company Helios & Matheson.
Theater chains have clearly felt threatened by MoviePass. In August, when MoviePass dropped its monthly rate to under $10, AMC quickly denounced the new pricing plan, called MoviePass a "small fringe player" and said it would try to block the service from its theaters.
However, MoviePass has been anything but a fringe player. According to Business Insider, it now has at least 600,000 subscribers.
With MoviePass, users can see one movie per day at most theaters. Members get a debit card after signing up and need to download the MoviePass app on their phone.
To see a movie, they have to check in on the app, then pick a film and a show time. After checking in, the MoviePass debit card is automatically loaded with the exact price of a movie ticket, which they can then use to purchase a ticket at the box office. There are no blackout dates and the app can also be used to purchase
There are some restrictions. IMAX and 3-D screens are not included in the service. The app can only be used for same-day tickets. There are also some chains and independent theaters which do not take part in MoviePass, including ArcLight and Landmark. It's also only used for solo tickets. You can't purchase for couples or groups, unless each person has their own account.
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