The first major poll of MoviePass subscribers comes to an indisputable conclusion — the monthly subscription service is dramatically changing moviegoing habits for the better at a time when theater owners and Hollywood studios are hard-pressed to stem the continued downtick in cinema attendance.
An exclusive survey conducted by the National Research Group for The Hollywood Reporter found that 83 percent of MoviePass patrons — who can pay as little as $6.95 a month to see one film a day — are more satisfied with MoviePass than any other subscription service (think Netflix) and are seeing more movies than they did previously, as well as a more diverse offering.
On average, subscribers have taken six more trips to the cinema in the past six months than nonsubscribers, while they are twice as likely to go on opening weekend. And nearly half of MoviePass customers say they are now willing to take a trip to the theater alone, while a hefty number (42 percent) happily go midweek.
"It's a service people adore. If you de-risk the moviegoing experience, people will go and see more films," NRG CEO Jon Penn says. "Whether the economics of MoviePass are viable and whether the business part of it works is a huge question mark."
NRG released the findings as studios and theater owners gather this week in Las Vegas for CinemaCon, where the controversial service is sure to be a chief topic of discussion.
MoviePass subscribers are themselves dubious: 63 percent think it's too good to be true, including 37 percent who strongly believe such is the case.
Their skepticism isn't unfounded.
Currently, the only plan available to new patrons, a $9.95-per-month bundle package with iHeartRadio, limits the number of movies a person can see to one title per week, or roughly four per month, a radical change from recent promotions which grant access to one movie per day.
In August 2017, MoviePass — upon selling a majority stake to Helios + Matheson Analytics — slashed its monthly unlimited price to $9.95 from as much as $50, depending upon the region. The price was subsequently lowered to $6.95, with certain provisions. MoviePass must pay theater owners the difference for each ticket used.
MoviePass, which counts more than 2 million subscribers, has bet on customers easing up on their consumption after the initial blush wears off. But that might not be the case. The NRG poll suggests most customers continue to "feast," says Penn.
More than half of MoviePass customers named specific titles they never would have paid full-freight to see, including Daddy's Home 2, All the Money in the World and A Bad Mom's Christmas. And nearly 60 percent of subscribers would go to the cinema less often were it not for MoviePass.
Roughly three-quarters of subscribers surveyed by NRG said they signed up in the past six months. Their chief reason was the desire to see more films and save money at the same time.
NRG's online poll surveyed more than 1,500 online moviegoers (including 439 MoviePass subscribers), ages 18 to 74, during March 14-19. The results found that subscribers skew male (55 percent), while 44 percent live in large markets and 41 percent reside in California, New York, Florida and Texas, compared with 34 percent of nonsubscribers.
Another key finding: MoviePass customers are far less concerned about a movie's Rotten Tomatoes score, with 35 percent saying they would be willing to ignore a bad rating.
While the economics of MoviePass may be up for debate, its success in winning over consumers can't be discounted. Cinemark, one of the three largest theater operators in the U.S., has recently introduced a monthly subscription program of its own. Members of Cinemark's loyalty program who pay $8.99 a month receive one free ticket per month, plus other perks.
The NRG survey notes that MoviePass customer would be willing to pay $15 per month for the service, while nonsubscribers would pay a median price of $10 per month.
"It brings in the whole idea of innovation in finding ways to get \people to see movies," says Penn. "It is a conversation the entire industry might have."