Almost two decades ago, Netflix offered an appealing option to fine-weary movie lovers: Unlimited DVD rentals that customers could keep for as long as they wanted. A company run by one of the founders of Netflix is trying a similar tactic to get movie fans back into theaters by letting customers have unlimited visits for a flat fee. The cost: $10 per month, and signing over your movie habits to Big Data.
How it works
MoviePass has been around since 2011, but you may not be familiar with it. Customers carry a card that they use like a debit card when buying tickets. The card pays the cost of one ticket for 2D, non-IMAX movies.
Theaters don’t have to join any networks or buy extra equipment: Instead, customers can supposedly just use the card at any movie theater that accepts debit cards, or around 91% of theaters nationwide, including independent theaters and the big chains like AMC, Cinemark, and Regal.
What changed today?
The previous MoviePass pricing scheme wasn’t a bad deal, starting at $15 and going up to $50 on a tiered plan according to your usage.
The price has fallen to $10 per month across the board because MoviePass has a new investor: Helios and Matheson Analytics, a firm that provides, in its own words, “big data, artificial intelligence, business intelligence, social listening, and consumer-centric technology.”
MoviePass is losing money now. CEO Mitch Lowe, who formerly helped found Netflix and ran Redbox, told Variety that its long-term plan is to prove how much the service boosts movie attendance, and share some of the proceeds with theater owners.
You are the product
It’s pretty obvious what Helios and Matheson gets out of this deal: you. Specifically, the viewing habits of the service’s users. In a press release, the companies note that after subscribing, MoviePass customers attended twice as many movies, and were much more likely to attend showings in the middle of the week.
“With our big data and artificial intelligence platforms and other technologies that we own, we will be able to bring a significant technological advantage to MoviePass,” Ted Farnsworth, Chairman and CEO at Helios and Matheson, said in a statement. “Our mission at HMNY is to continuously be innovating, and this blending is a natural fit to take us up to the next level and beyond.”