Review: MoviePass

I've always enjoyed movies and even had aspirations of one day working in Hollywood so I'd consider myself a bit of a movie buff but, unless their was a movie I was really interested in, I always found the cost to be a bit of a barrier from me going to the theaters regularly.

The Premise 

MoviePass is a subscription service that allows you to see every movie once, while it is in participating theaters, so long as it is not 3D or IMAX (they say that options for those two will be coming in the future though). The fee that is charged seems to fluctuate based on where you live and when you signed up. I seem to have gotten in on the ground floor and I'm paying $25/mo but I've heard others being charged as high as $40. It is also worth noting that you get your first month risk-free and can cancel at anytime but after that you are locked into a year commitment. Any cancellation during that first year will cost you a cancelation fee plus any savings you incurred during your usage, its a bit confusing but they explain it here. MoviePass' rationale for makes a lot of sense especially during this time of the year, "We need to protect against fraud and from those who might abuse their membership privileges by seeing a bunch of movies within a short span of time, and then cancelling their membership."

The premise of MoviePass is pretty straight forward. You sign up online and they mail you a Discover card. When you are ready to see a movie, you fire up their app on your iPhone (or visit their website from your phone) and using the GPS in your phone 'check-in' at the theater and let them know what movie and at what time you will be attending. This 'check-in' then activates your Discover card for a period of 30 mins at which point you go into the theater, buy your ticket and enjoy the show.

The Experience

Looking at the MoviePass app on my phone, I signed up on 10/8/12 but my next billing date is on the 15th which means my card took a week to get to me. (You are not billed until you activate your card.) So from 10/15 to 11/10, I have seen four movies with the help of my MoviePass:

  • Looper
  • Cloud Atlas
  • Wreck-It Ralph
  • Skyfall

With the exception of Looper, which was my first experience with MoviePass (where I had a bit of trouble with the app getting stuck while loading), the process has worked exactly as billed. I show up at the theater, check-in while still sitting in my car and buy my tickets from the automated ticket kiosk inside. This whole process works so easily for me because every time I've gone I have been alone. The experience for someone bringing a date or significant other who isn't a MoviePass subscriber would have to involve a separate transaction. I don't see this being a huge deal, but it would be neat if you could just buy the second ticket with your MoviePass card and then have MoviePass throw that cost right onto your billing credit card. 

Pro Tip: Check to see if the theater you frequent has a rewards card (like Regal Cinemas), you could rake up 'free' points for free popcorn/soda while using your MoviePass card.

The Numbers

In the month that I've had MoviePass, I have been to the theater every Saturday (this will probably change to Sat & Sun once football season ends) and for the most part I have been hitting matinees, which at my theater are $9.50. So if we do a little math:

$9.5 matinee x 4 movies = $38

$11.50 evening x 4 = $46

I've seen $38 worth of matinees for $25 and saved $13. Had I seen those and payed the normal evening price of $11.50, I would have saved $21 over the course of the month. If we multiply these out over the course of a year:  

$25/mo x 12mo = $300/yr for MoviePass

$38 x 12mo = $456/yr of matinees ($156 in savings)

$46 x 12mo = $552/yr of evening showings ($252 in savings)

When you spread out the costs over the course of a year and assume your always seeing movies at the same price point, the savings are even more noticeable. 

Conclusion

I picked the perfect time to start a subscription movie service like this, the Academy Award caliber movies are all being released, so it is really easy to get a good bang for my buck out of MoviePass. I will be interested to see how many movies I actually get to the theater and see at the beginning of 2013 when the pickings get a bit slimmer.

Whether or not you are avid movie goer, at the $25-30/mo price point, I think signing up for MoviePass is a given. But at the higher end $40/mo, I'm not sure I would have signed up as it would seemingly be a chore to get your full money's worth.

Overall, the service works surprisingly flawlessly and its forcing me to watch more movies, which is something I can't complain about.

If your interested in signing up, use my invite link here.