Industry News

AMC responds to MoviePass $9.95 pass with e-tickets ban

AMC Theaters has responded to MoviePass’ controversial new $9.95 cinema pass by banning the movie subscription provider’s users from buying e-tickets in Denver and Boston.

Theatres in the two US cities and AMC agreed to work with MoviePass on a new subscription service that included 3D and IMAX movies as part of subscriptions in 2014.

While MoviePass subscribers can still watch movies at the AMC venues in those cities they now have to wait in line to use their MoviePass Mastercard rather than purchasing tickets digitally.

MoviePass introduced a new pass last week which allows members to attend movies every day for just $9.95 (£7.70/€8.50) per month. MoviePass tickets cover 91 per cent of cinemas in the US.

AMC immediately responded by announcing it was consulting with its attorneys “to determine if or how AMC can prevent the subscription programme”.

It is believed AMC would not be able to stop accepting MoviePass cards without banning all MasterCard usage at their theatres as the credit card firm bars companies using its service from discriminating.

In a statement issued last week, 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.”

Meanwhile, MoviePass said that in the two-day period after introducing its new low-cost pass it raised its subscription level to more than 150,000. That means it has now passed the target set for late 2018, and is a huge rise compared to the 20,000 subscribers it had last December.

Helios and Matheson Analytics, which bought MoviePass earlier this month, said that two unnamed theatre chains that have partnership agreements with MoviePass “reported outstanding attendance by subscribers” in the last week. Over six days to August 20, one saw MoviePass attendance grow to 4,137 from 206 the previous week. The other chain was up to 1,795 from 203.

“We did not foresee a phenomenon of this magnitude coming,” said Ted Farnsworth, chairman and chief executive of Helios and Matheson Analytics.

“We set the expectation for MoviePass to achieve at least 150,000 subscribers 15 months down the road. The fact that this has occurred in a few days after announcing the $9.95 per month pricing model reinforces our belief that we will disrupt the motion picture industry as we know it.”

“From day one with MoviePass, my goal was to afford consumers the best possible deal we could offer them,” said chief executive Mitch Lowe.

“We are gratified, and frankly amazed, as to the string of events that has unfolded and the volume of movie lovers we have been able to reach. Putting them in theater seats has always been our mission and this is a dream come true.”