Get well soon, MoviePass! The subscription service that lets you watch an unlimited amount of movies in theaters for $10 a month has not been feeling so hot lately—which spells the end of a very cool dream for its two million and counting subscribers.
MoviePass’s parent company’s stock prices have tumbled, threatening its ability to be listed by the Nasdaq at all. What’s worse and more relevant to consumers is that on Monday, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe told staff that two new releases—Christopher Robbin and The Meg—would not be available to subscribers right away, according to an anonymous source who spoke to Business Insider. Customers got a taste of that last weekend, when the MoviePass app broke down and users reported not being able to see Mission: Impossible - Fallout, which we hear is very good.
But it’s almost as if MoviePass anticipated some of this backlash and bad fortune, because last Friday, Lowe published an open letter, explaining how recent changes—like surge pricing for new releases—keeps its $10/month price down and theoretically should keep everybody happy:
“As we’ve shared with you before, rather than raise the price of the subscription, we’ve decided to enable all of you to have the choice between high value (ability to see up to one movie a day) at a low cost ($9.95) versus the flexibility to see whichever movie you want, wherever and whenever you want to see it. In other words, you can choose to see a movie in high demand on Opening Weekend for a small additional surcharge, or wait to see a popular movie a bit later in its theatrical run at no additional cost.”
The tone of the letter was remarkably grateful and please-don’t-kill-us:
“We ask for your understanding and vocal support during this time, as we continue to fundamentally change an industry that hasn’t evolved much in years [...] MoviePass’ mission is to make moviegoing accessible to everyone and to enhance the power of discovery – but we need your support as we refine our model for the long-haul.”
How long can the long haul be at this point, with all the trouble brewing overhead? If MoviePass is not long for this world, it’ll be a damn shame—it was a testament to human ingenuity (and humans’ love of free things), and it will go down with nearly mythical status. Long live MoviePass (not that it’s dead yet, or not totally dead yet, anyway.)
Update (12:35 p.m.): Well, well, well—MoviePass has announced it’s raising its unlimited monthly subscription from $9.99 to $14.95 within the next 30 days, which still strikes me as a good deal. The company is also limiting access to “new movies that are released in at least 1,000 theaters for the first two weeks,” according to CNBC, which strikes me as less of a good deal. It looks like MoviePass will not go gentle into the night. Godspeed.