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Is MoviePass crying uncle?
The subscription service famous for supplying a movie ticket per day for just $9.95 a month hasn’t been offering that wildly popular package since April 13, when it decided to slash it to just four tickets a month.
The new offering, which also includes iHeartRadio All Access (normally $9.99 a month), is being called a “promotion” and is temporary, though in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe said he doesn’t know if the flagship, ticket-a-day product will ever return.
“Do you think you will go back to a movie a day?” THR asked Lowe at CinemaCon in Las Vegas late Wednesday. “I don’t know,” he responded.
Certainly, MoviePass has been known to offer bundled promotions before — one that included streaming service Fandor, for example, cost just $7.95 monthly — but such promotions had always featured the full MoviePass experience, which for years has been one ticket per day.
As recently as a few months ago, Lowe told THR there were no plans to water down the service, so his remarks Wednesday night represent a potential departure in his thinking. If the per-day service does not return, it would represent a victory of sorts for the skeptics who predicted the business model was unsustainable.
Since MoviePass lowered its subscription fee from a high of $50 a month to just $9.95 back in August, it quickly swelled from 20,000 users to more than 2 million, prompting Ted Farnsworth, the CEO of parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics, to call it “the fastest growing company in the history of the internet.”
A month ago, MoviePass was saying it would boast 5 million users by the end of the year, though it’s now unclear if that goal is attainable if the ticket-per-day policy is not reinstalled for new subscribers.
Farnsworth and Lowe both say that 88 percent of MoviePass subscribers see fewer than two movies per month, so restricting the service to four tickets per month will only impact 12 percent of its users. Apparently, that may be enough to dissuade the company from reinitiating its ticket-a-day offering.
For months, Lowe has maintained that MoviePass could be profitable — even though it pays full price for 94 percent of the movie tickets its subscribers use — because it would strike deals for kickbacks on the tickets and concessions purchased, and it would push restaurant coupons to users, market films for studios and sell user data. The exec’s acknowledgment Wednesday indicates that profitability might be harder to come by if MoviePass keeps shelling out about $8.97 per ticket and allows users 30 tickets a month.
“We just always try different things,” Lowe said. “Every time we try a new promotion, we never put a deadline on it.”
Assuming MoviePass sticks with four tickets per month, it will find it has competition in Sinemia, a new service that gives subscribers two tickets a month for for $9.99 but, unlike MoviePass, it allows for seat reservations and 3D and Imax movies.
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