MoviePass is on a collision course with major theatres in the US after announcing that it is dropping its monthly subscription fee to just $9.95 (£7.70/€8.50).
Cinema buffs can now watch a film every day of the month for just a little more than the average price of one ticket. Previously, MoviePass subscriptions – which are accepted at more than 90 per cent of US theatres – were priced from $15 to $50.
MoviePass, led by former Netflix executive Mitch Lowe, told Bloomberg that it is funding the venture with the $27m it has generated by selling a 51 per cent stake in its business to data firm Helios and Matheson Analytics. It accepts that it will lose money from subsidising tickets, but it is hoping that theatres and studios will eventually sell them at discounted rates once viewers pour in and concession sales go up.
It is aiming for 80,000 new subscribers, and the plan has so far proved popular, with the MoviePass website crashing when the passes became available on Tuesday.
However, AMC Theatres, the largest movie theatre operator in the US, has already released a statement announcing it is consulting with its attorneys “to determine if or how AMC can prevent the subscription programme”.
In a statement, AMC said: “AMC believes that holding out to consumers that first run movies can be watched in theatres at great quantities for a monthly price of $9.95 isn’t doing moviegoers any favours.
“In AMC’s view, that price level is unsustainable and only sets up consumers for ultimate disappointment down the road if or when the product can no longer be fulfilled.
“AMC also believes that promising essentially unlimited first-run movie content at a price below $10 per month over time will not provide sufficient revenue to operate quality theatres nor will it produce enough income to provide film makers with sufficient incentive to make great new movies.
“Therefore, AMC will not be able to offer discounts to MoviePass in the future, which seems to be among their aims.”