MoviePass Hits Two Million Subscribers, Walks Back Oscar Box-Office Claim

Courtesy of Fox Searchlight
'The Shape of Water'

The movie subscription service has contributed $26 million to films competing in the best picture race and other top categories.

MoviePass said Thursday it has exceeded 2 million subscribers, who pay $9.95 a month to see as many films as they want.

The news came one day after MoviePass made headlines when it issued a press release saying it is driving people to see Oscar-nominated films they might otherwise skip. As a result, the movie subscription service said it has contributed $128.7 million in box-office revenue to nominated films, a hefty sum.

Several hours later, however, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe issued a second statement clarifying the statistic. He explained that the $128 million figure includes the "halo effect," i.e., tickets purchased by consumers accompanying MoviePass subscribers to the cinema, as well as tickets bought by customers who were referred by MoviePass patrons.

In terms of revenue directly coming from MoviePass, however, the share the company has contributed to Oscar films is closer to $26 million, according to data provided by MoviePass. That excludes MoviePass revenue for such titles as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The Greatest Showman, Blade Runner 2049 and Wonder, since none of those films are nominated in top categories, such as best picture, best director or best actor. In other words, Oscar nominations aren't necessarily driving people to see those movies, as is the case with such specialty players as best picture contenders The Shape of Water or Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, among others. If the tally includes all the films that received nominations, MovePass said its share is $48 million.

To date, Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water has earned $46.3 million domestically; MoviePass has kicked in $3.6 million. Three Billboards' current total is $42.8 million; MoviePass' share is roughly $3 million.

The company's customer base has grown exponentially since August — when it lowered the monthly price to $9.95 — from 20,000 subscribers to 1 million in four months. By the end of January, it had 1.5 million subs, before clearing 2 million in recent days.

"We’re giving people a reason to go back to the movie theaters and they’re going in droves. With awards season here, we hope we can make Hollywood and exhibitors very happy by filling seats with eager audiences,” said Lowe. “Based on the dramatic increase in the number of MoviePass subscribers over such a short period of time, we believe MoviePass will continue to grow its subscriber base significantly.”

Offering 30 admissions for the price of one each month has attracted skepticism, however, since MoviePass pays full price for the tickets its members use (except at a few theater partners). AMC, with 8,000-plus screens in the U.S., has sought legal counsel in its quest to opt out of the service, and Adam Aron, its CEO, said in November that AMC has "no intention of sharing any — I repeat, any — of our admissions revenue or our concessions" with MoviePass.

MoviePass is a majority-owned subsidiary of Helios and Matheson Analytics.