MoviePass Cofounder Relaunching the Company
For a brief, glorious, enormously unprofitable moment, cinephiles could see all the movies they wanted in theaters for the price of $10 a month. MoviePass was a unique subscription service where customers paid a monthly fee for unlimited movie tickets. It started small, with a price of $30 a month — not horrible if you went to the movies regularly. Then, in 2017, the company was sold to analytics firm Helios and Matheson and announced a new $10-per-month price, which was less for 30 days of free tickets than the cost of a single full-priced ticket in New York City. As literally anyone alive could tell, this was an absolutely awful business model — but it was an incredible deal for movie lovers, and within a few months, MoviePass had millions of subscribers.
It couldn’t last and it didn’t. The site gradually became less reliable and less useful before finally shutting down completely in late 2019. Bankruptcy followed, but now one of the company’s cofounders has purchased the rights to the company in bankruptcy court with plans to relaunch MoviePass.
Stacy Spikes gave this statement about the purchase to Insider:
I can confirm that we acquired MoviePass out of bankruptcy on Wednesday. We are thrilled to have it back and are exploring the possibility of relaunching soon. Our pursuit to reclaim the brand was encouraged by the continued interest from the moviegoing community. We believe, if done properly, theatrical subscription can play an instrumental role in lifting moviegoing attendance to new heights.
Insider’s article notes that when MoviePass was first put up for sale in bankruptcy court last year the “minimum bid set by the trustee was $250,000” and at that time “there were no competitive bids.” But Spikes, who is one of the people who dreamed up MoviePass in the first place, was able to put together the funds to buy back his brainchild, and clearly thinks there’s still value in the concept. (The purchase did not include the company’s data or former customers’ email addresses.)
MoviePass was always a decent idea; as it took off, several theater chains like AMC and Alamo began their own subscription services in the same style — albeit with slightly higher monthly fees and more restrictions on how often you could go to the theater. So it’s not impossible that MoviePass could work at the right price, with the right amount of options.
But does anyone want that? The reason people loved MoviePass was because it was an impossibly good deal. Plus the pandemic has made a lot of people wary of theaters, who often want to spend less time in enclosed spaces with strangers, not more. It just seems like a very dicey (and potentially disastrous) time to try to relaunch the company — in other words, a perfectly on-brand move for MoviePass. Spikes told Inside he wants to restart the service “sometime next year.”