MoviePass has now passed 400,000 subscribers in the US after introducing its controversial $9.95-a-month cinema pass.

Incredibly, that’s a rise of 1,900 per cent in the 30 days since the low-cost subscription plan was launched after MoviePass was acquired by big data and tech firm Helios and Matheson.

MoviePass projects that it will acquire at least 2.5 million additional paying subscribers during the next 12 months, and expects to retain at least 2.1 million of those additional paying subscribers at the end of that period.

MoviePass had fewer than 20,000 subscribers on August 14, but the operator said the “viral subscriber growth” is due in part by the “innovative and disruptive technology MoviePass and Helios & Matheson offer in combination with massive interest for the new $9.95 per month subscription plan”.

Business model

Helios and Matheson’s technology learns individual moviegoer’s tastes and makes recommendations based on recorded preferences for specific genres, actors and even the opinions of friends with similar likings. MoviePass said it wants to bridge the gap between marketing and advertising and actual movie attendance.

“This explains our sustainable business model: Helios and Matheson is incorporating advertising models with the MoviePass application using artificial intelligence, algorithms, and machine learning so we can provide studios with more precise data for their advertising efforts,” said Ted Farnsworth, chairman and chief executive of Helios and Matheson.

“We want to understand the data generated by the movie goers and cater directly to their needs. For example, MoviePass will understand their genre choice films: horror, action-thrillers, drama, comedy, romance, animation, etc. Through testing, we found viewership is up 18 per cent on films we choose to market more heavily in the MoviePass app.

“We will seek to sell our advertising to the studios, channeling MoviePass subscribers to see certain movies. Also, we plan to use the viewing history and habit information of each user to guide them to select upcoming movies that appeal to their interests. Our goal is to serve the interests of moviegoers, movie studios and movie theatres alike.”

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

In a statement issued last month, 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.”