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The United Kingdom could be on the verge of having its own version of MoviePass. Set up by venture capitalist brothers Puya and Pedram Vahabi and launched in trial format this year, cPass is much like MoviePass in that it gives its subscribers a card offering them all-you-can-eat (OK, one movie a day) access to any cinema for a monthly fee, in this case £9.95 ($13).
“But the final idea is to move to a plan of one movie per week,” they say.
There are currently around 10,000 beta users, and only in London. The Vahabis claim there’s a “four-digit waiting list” to join (which people can sign up for online), but they don’t plan to open up any further — and with the new weekly plan — until September or October. “And even then, we’re not going to release cards to everyone.”
Like MoviePass, cPass pays full price for the tickets bought by its subscribers — which in London can top $20 — and has no affiliation with any exhibitor. It’s currently being bankrolled by the Vahabi brothers, who say they’re now “talking with several venture capitalists” to help them scale out. “We have other plans on how to finance ourselves, but for the past month have been looking for investment.”
The problems faced by MoviePass — which lost some $150 million in 2017 — offer important lessons, note the cPass founders, who say the aim is to stay sustainable. “[MoviePass] scaled very fast across the U.S. and has more than 2 million paying customers right now, and this makes everything more difficult,” they say. “We can scale, but without going too big, too much, too soon.”
The plan is to expand cPass into Europe — but slowly. “It’s in the pipeline, but right now we’re not even in the whole of the U.K.,” say the Vahabis, who indicate they might take a city-by-city route. “The main problem now is not to go big.”
This story first appeared in the June 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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