Welcome to the thrilling conclusion to my three part series on MoviePass, the subscription movie theater ticket startup that is trying to get you off of your cushy couch and into a cushy velvet theater seat.
My first two articles introduced you to the basic turning gears of MoviePass and how the service performs at theaters. If you need to catch up here are thinks to Parts 1 &2.
MoviePass (part 1) a new hope!
MoviePass (part 2) return of the free movies!
Best feature overall: No more wasted time in waiting rooms
Biggest challenge to still overcome: preordering, friend integration, multiple viewing, nagging issues that require calling into customer service
Amount of films seen with moviepass in three months: 14
Bottom line… MoviePass works! Over the past three months that I’ve used the service I’ve seen fourteen movies without any real effort to do so. Before MoviePass I’d probably average one movie in a theater each month. Calculating those fourteen movies against average ticket prices in my area, that’s almost $60 a month in films. The monthly cost of MoviePass is right around $30 so I’m averaging almost double the value. At $30 a month, the service ends up costing a little over $1 a day. This is obviously a luxury, but we make room for many luxuries as Americans. Think of those $4 lattes, reducing your fancy coffee intake from four days a week down to two days a week more than pays for the service. When you can break it down that simply, we can all probably find a way to re-purpose $7 a week.
Now the fun part, what if you have absolutely nothing going on in your life and you want to take FULL advantage of MoviePass… Let’s see one movie every single day! Again using average ticket prices in my area that’s over $350 dollars a month in movies for the same $30. Over a full one year contract, you’ll pay $360 for the service all told. If you were to see one movie a day for an entire year (which would be admittedly tough because you can’t repeat movies) you’re looking at a value of $4400 dollars in movie tickets. Nevermind the fact that you’ve lost your job, all of your friends and your fish is swimming upside down, you’ve just saved $4000!!!
Of course the last paragraph is silly, but it’s a fun bit of info to reference to friends when you flash your moviepass card at the theater queue. Though those numbers are impressive, the real value to the service is how it improves the quality of your wasted time. No matter how successful we are, most everyone has to get their oil changed. It was always such a great surprise to realize the MoviePass card in my pocket meant I didn’t have to watch daytime TV in the waiting room or read an Entertainment Weekly article from 1994 on how the cast of Murphy Brown each brings their dog to the set. There was always a theater within a 5 minute drive at the most and I could either walk or grab a courtesy shuttle from the car dealership to enjoy my hour of newly found free time. As I’d mentioned before, another great feature is not being afraid to see “bad” movies. My significant other loves garbage movies. She’s unapologetic about that fact and in fact, she celebrates it. It irks me to no end that she’d support the makes of the 7th Paranormal Activity. It makes her happy, but it’s something I can’t bring myself to participate in. The MoviePass made that a bit more easy to tolerate. As long as I didn’t take the $12 out of my wallet, I’d be able to give a few of them a chance. Since no money was actually given directly to the film from me that day, I wouldn’t feel as bad if it was so bad that I needed to excuse myself and go find some place quiet to cry.
For all of the benefits, MoviePass still has work to do. No options to integrate friends into the equation just won’t work out well. Even though we sit in the darkness without interacting (if we are decent moviegoers) people tend to couple up for movies. Seconds matter when you’re going to a movie and trying to find a good seat. Always having to do two separate transactions while using the MoviePass was a problem. People behind you in line are restless and the fear of the front row and aching necks multiplies by the millisecond. Another problem present that can involve a buddy is preordering tickets. So far MoviePass doesn’t allow true preordering through it’s app. You can purchase a ticket for any showtime in a single day that shows up in the app, but you have to purchase your ticket within a half hour of checking in and reserving your seat. On a Saturday night this is a pain. If you want to plan a nice evening, dinner at seven and a movie at nine, you’ll most likely need to go to the theater earlier in that day to purchase your tickets to be sure things won’t sell out. I live in a very crowded area of Los Angeles and movies sell out hours in advance on busy nights. All of the mainstream movie apps offer ticket ordering that gives you a number or barcode that can be used at the theater to redeem reserved tickets even seconds before the movie starts. An obvious problem to consider is that 200 people with a MoviePass card reserve tickets and none show up. The theater is sold out technically and you peek in to see five people alone in the latest summer blockbuster on opening night. Something like this could easily be addressed though, If you reserve tickets and don’t redeem them, your account can be flagged and possibly suspended if you don’t have a reason or it becomes excessive.
A couple more small issues that aren’t deal breakers but both can be annoying. MoviePass has flawless customer service from what I’ve seen. They have phone operators that instantly answer your calls from 10am – 3am on weekdays and 12pm – 3am on weekends including holidays. That availability is ridiculous for any business aside from MoviePass imagine you’re at the front of a line of 80 people waiting to purchase tickets and you find out the movie that you’ve reserved is sold out. You aren’t allowed to just switch films. Once you reserve a movie it is the only movie that you can see that day unless you call in. Try to take five minutes to make a phone call while you’re in the front of a line full of nearly a hundred angry people on a particularly humid California summer night. There needs to be a better way, no argument here, fix it.
Another nag that requires a phone call concerns the movie pass app. Whenever you need to change devices or reinstall and log in to the app, it checks to see if the device is registered to your account. As a technology writer, I’m in a unique situation that involves me updating or changing my daily devices on a day to day basis at times. This is not typical, but many people need the latest and greatest phone or tablet and there is also a huge community of android developers that create custom phone software called ROMs. Each time you apply a new ROM or update your phone’s software in anyway you’ll need to reinstall and log into the app but it will not let you if it’s already registered to a previous device. It would be bad enough if I had to manage this myself in a web interface, but I could live with that. This is worse in reality because you’ll again need to either call in or chat online to a customer service rep that will go into your account and reset the app’s association. It’s relatively quick but it’s a hassle. I would only seem to realize that the app hadn’t been reassigned at the last moment and one time it meant me losing my place in line and spending an additional half hour waiting to get back to the front. Again, it just doesn’t work and another approach needs to be applied to the service.
The only other thing to discuss is a wish list. Of course first and foremost is 3D and IMAX movie options. MoviePass has promised that they are working on this from their inception. So far no details are formally released beyond,
“Currently, MoviePass can only be used for 2D films and your card will not work if attempting to purchase a 3D or IMAX ticket. We’re working on a variety of plans, including 3D/IMAX, so stay tuned!”
A preordering option, even for a supplemental fee, is a needed option. Additionally, a “purchase a buddy ticket/s” option would be great. Click the button while checking in at a movie and it could simply charge the full price of a ticket at that theater to your account. This would mean when at the ticket window you could say, “two tickets to Deuce Bigalow 5: Tasmanian Jiggalo please” and then present your card and get two tickets and leave LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE. The last thing I thought of was a repeat viewing bonus. I don’t mind the one movie a day limit but only being able to view a certain movie once doesn’t really work. While it would be ideal that you could watch a movie 10 days in a row if you saw fit, I understand the issues that would cause. A good compromise that conveys that MoviePass cares is a bonus views allowance. Let’s say 3 repeat viewings a month. This way you couldn’t see Twilight eighty times, but you could go see The Avengers again if you missed the scene after the credits and your friends are giving you grief. This is doable and I hope to see this implemented some day soon.
I can’t say enough good things about the fact that MoviePass exists. Many others considered this type of service but the folks running MoviePass had the knowledge and persistence to create and maintain it. It’s a very good start to a service that I hope stays around for generations more to enjoy.
Thank you again to MoviePass for supplying their product for review.
How much: $29.99 a month with one year initial contract (month to month after that)
click here to download the MoviePass app for Android or iPhone.
ENJOY YOUR GADGETS!