MoviePass Now Aims to Acquire Films With Distributors

Mitch Lowe - H - 2017

The controversial subscription service unveiled its new business, MoviePass Ventures, at the Sundance Film Festival.

MoviePass, which sells up to a month's worth of movie tickets for the price of one, said Friday it will put more "skin in the game" by partnering with distributors to jointly acquire films. 

The company announced its new business, dubbed MoviePass Ventures, at the Sundance Film Festival. 

MoviePass made a splash late last year when it announced that the price of the subscription service it launched seven years ago for $50 a month, giving users one ticket to a theater every day, would be dropped to $9.95.

MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe has always maintained that the service primarily benefits small and independent titles, since subscribers no longer feel the need to get extra bang for their moviegoing bucks by saving them for the tentpoles and franchise films. Therefore, it makes sense for MoviePass to invest in the small films that are boosted by the subscription service.

MoviePass has more than 1.5 million subscribers, and Lowe says it is buying about 3 percent of all domestic movie tickets, but that has swelled to 10 percent for certain titles, such as Call Me by Your Name, The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

"Given the success we have demonstrated for our distributor partners in ensuring strong box office in the theatrical window, it's only natural for us to double down and want to play alongside them — and share in the upside," Lowe said.

MoviePass, though, is not without controversy, as some theater chains, AMC Entertainment in particular, believe the subscription service cheapens the moviegoing experience.

"We aren't here at Sundance to compete with distributors, but rather to put skin in the game alongside them and to bring great films to the big screen across the country for our subscribers," said Ted Farnsworth, CEO of Helios and Matheson Analystics, the controlling entity behind MoviePass.