Are you a MoviePass subscriber? Are you experiencing sharp neck pains? Do not be alarmed: You’re simply experiencing the condition known as MoviePass Whiplash. It’s a debilitating disorder that affects customers of the world’s biggest movie theater subscription service, caused by said service making sudden, wide-ranging changes to their business plan … and then canceling those changes a few days later, while introducing a new wave of even more severe changes.
Or in other words: It’s just MoviePass being MoviePass. Last week, the struggling company announced that it would be increasing the price of its famous ”$9.95 for unlimited movies” plan to $14.95, amid a slew of other, immediately unpopular decisions. That came on the heels of a weekend where the service literally ran out of cash on hand, and had to take out an emergency, $6 million loan to keep the doors open. Now, just days later, the service has flip-flopped again, saying that they are canceling the proposed price increase and instead restricting the number of movies that users can see per month—from “one per day” to just three per month. The company’s leadership says that this three-per-month figure lines up with how the core MoviePass user makes use of the service—which is to say, “the users who are cheaper for us to have as customers.” Die-hards who made use of MoviePass most frequently? They’re out of luck, and their all-you-can view buffet apparently ends here.
“We’ve been whipsawing people back and forth,” said MoviePass Chief Executive Mitch Lowe in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “I think we’ve got it now.”
Uhhh … we’re not so sure that the people already burned by the service are going to accept that meager acknowledgement of how they’ve been “whipsawed,” Mitch. Meanwhile, the NEW new policy, that of three films per month, is scheduled to take effect on Aug. 15, which Lowe says “will reduce the company’s cash burn rate by more than 60%.” The service currently boasts around 3 million users, but one has to figure that number is probably on its way down, rather than up, especially as competitors such as AMC Theatre’s A-List subscription service has taken off to a fast start, with more than 175,000 subscribers in its first month of operation.
MoviePass, assuming that the latest announcement actually sticks and isn’t simply retconned by another announcement three days from now, will instead be apparently focusing on the demographic most likely to be profitable, eschewing those customers who were using its service the most heavily. According to Lowe, the customers using MoviePass three or less times a month won’t even know anything has changed.
“They will not be affected at all by this program, and even better, they’ll stop hearing MoviePass is going out of business,” he said.
Oh yeah, that sounds truly optimistic, does it not? We’ll continue bringing you news on this stupid saga as it unspools what might be its final chapters.