The latest chapter in what we’ve come to think of “The MoviePass Saga” doesn’t even concern the subscription service directly … except for the fact that it really does. AMC Theatres, the country’s largest movie theater chain, announced five weeks ago the creation of their own competing subscription service, AMC Stubs A-List, which was clearly targeted directly at MoviePass, which has swelled over the last year to more than 3 million members, making it the fastest-growing subscription service in history. And it’s not too hard to see why: All-you-can-see movies for $9.95 a month seems like an impossibly good deal.
In reality, of course, it didn’t just “seem” like an impossibly good deal, though—it was legitimately impossible for MoviePass to maintain. Yesterday, the service announced that its subscription price would be increasing to $14.95, along with an expansion of the much-hated “peak pricing” mechanic. This comes just days after MoviePass literally ran out of cash over the weekend, causing the service to briefly shut down until it obtained a $6 million loan. Add to that the inability of subscribers to use the service on new blockbuster releases such as Mission Impossible — Fallout and you’ve got a whole hell of a lot of dissatisfied MoviePass customers.
Enter, AMC (as well as other competitors such as Sinemia). Their subscription service, A-List, may cost a bit more at $19.95 per month, but it has the advantage of a corporate giant’s structure and reliability behind it. For that monthly price, subscribers can see any film at any time (including 3D movies), up to three per week. It’s a price point that is smartly configured to offer the impression of value, while still avoiding the bargain bin $9.95 price point of MoviePass. Also included are an array of other benefits from the already existing AMC Premiere, which have been rolled into A-List to offer extra value.
And judging from the first wave of subscribers, these tactics appear to be working better than expected. AMC announced on Tuesday that A-List had already accrued more than 175,000 subscribers in its first five weeks in operation, which is well ahead of the initiative’s goals. AMC had hoped the service would hit 1 million subscribers by June of 2020, but at this rate, they’d get there by the end of 2018—especially if MoviePass customers are jumping ship en masse.
It seems clear that we are entering a new paradigm, as far as traditional movie theater viewing is concerned. As with Spotify and Netflix before it, another subscription-based system is emerging. Who will come to dominate the space, five years from now? You can bet that AMC is planning on being the victor.