Moviegoers Aren't Yet Sold on Theater Subscription Services (Exclusive Poll)

Perks such as rollover tickets, flexible plans and concession discounts could make consumers more likely to subscribe, a Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll finds.

The vast majority of consumers remain leery of movie ticket subscription services — and it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the rise and fall of MoviePass, which at one time allowed customers to see one movie a day for the low monthly cost of $9.99.

Only 6 percent of 2,201 adults surveyed between Oct. 11 and 14 said they are certain or very likely to sign up for a monthly plan, while 23 percent say they are split down the middle, according to a Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll conducted Oct. 11-14. Another 32 percent say they aren't very likely. And 29 percent said they have no interest.

"Theaters need to convert casual moviegoers," says Morning Consult vp Tyler Sinclair.

Wall Street analyst Eric Handler of MKM partners isn't surprised by the results. He says movie subscription services now offered by the likes of mega-theater chains AMC and Cinemark are targeting frequent moviegoers.

"They are for people who are their most loyal customers. It's a value-added option for people that want to go to the movies a couple a times a month. They're not meant for the person who maybe goes four times a year. For those people, a monthly service probably isn't the best idea," says Handler.

The Morning Consult poll found that special features and flexibility could incentivize the apathetic. That includes rolling over unused tickets (22 percent), choice of plans and cinemas (19 percent) and number of movies included (15). And in one instance, 46 percent said concession discounts were key.

In terms of price point, the survey found that consumers are far more interested in the quality of a plan, versus the cost. The optimal price for a movie subscription plan allowing a patron to see three movies a month is $16, while the optimum for three movies per week is $21 per month. For unlimited, the ideal monthly price tag would be $24.

This summer, the stock of MoviePass' parent company, Helios and Matheson, went into free fall, forcing MoviePass to take drastic action and adjust its pricing. Currently, members can see three movies per month for $9.99. (On Oct. 23, Helios and Matheson said it would spin off MoviePass into its own separately traded company.) 

MoviePass made headlines for months after announcing in summer 2017 that it was slashing its monthly subscription price to $9.99 and that customers could see one movie per day. Box-office analysts questioned whether such a plan was sustainable, since MoviePass has to pay the full cost of the price to theater owners and Hollywood studios. Still, its membership grew to more than 2 million.

Competing monthly ticket subscription services that have emerged since include AMC Stubs A-List, which allows customers to see three movies per week in any format for $19.95. The program, launched in June, added 400,000 paying customers in its first 14 weeks.

Cinemark Movie Club, announced before AMC's service, allows patrons to get one free 2-D monthly for $9. Additionally, they get discounts on concessions. And unused tickets roll over. By mid-August, Movie Club boasted more than 350,000 customers.

In comparison, the average cost of a movie ticket for the year so far is $9.13.

Another movie subscription service is Sinemia, which has a far bigger footprint in Europe. Sinemia offers a variety of plans, including three movies per month for $9.99 and unlimited movies for $29.

Of those surveyed by Morning Consult, 19 percent make one trip once a month to the theater, defined as a frequent moviegoer by the Motion Picture Association of America. About 4 percent see a movie every week. More than half (54 percent) go to the cinema less than once a month, and 14 percent never go.

The Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll was conducted from Oct. 11 to Oct. 14 from a national sample of 2,201 adults with a margin of error of 2 percent.