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The MoviePass Mystery: as many movies you want for $10 a month

Ticket booth in Cathedral City.
Ticket booth in Cathedral City.

With streaming services revolutionizing the entertainment industry, watching movies has never been easier. Yet, there is something nostalgic, almost sacred, in the experience of going to the movie theater.

Something about the dark room full of cool air, the ritual of new trailers playing before the film starts and the collectiveness of everyone staring at the same screen is distinct. It offers an escape that a 12-inch MacBook can’t provide.

The only problem is the price. Movie tickets are expensive, especially for college students who have to scrape change out of their car to pay for Ramen. A $10 ticket suddenly seems like a luxury, which is unfortunate considering how beneficial a trip to the movies can be when you’re trying to forget what a hot mess your life is.

Former Netflix Executive Mitch Lowe has tried to alleviate this problem. As CEO of MoviePass, he recently slashed the price for the movie subscription service from $50 to $9.95 a month. So, you could theoretically see 30 movies a month for less than the cost of one ticket.

Such a low price seems too good to be true and  unsustainable. But, the company doesn’t just make money off its subscribers.

“Studios are paying us around two dollars per ticket we buy in exchange for us marketing their film,” Lowe said to the Washington Post. MoviePass has the potential to create a mutually beneficial relationship between moviegoers, studios and theaters where consumers get a lower price, studious get higher box office numbers and theaters subsequently make more off concessions.

When you sign up for MoviePass you will get a card in the mail after two weeks. To use the card you simply download the app, go to the theater and select the movie you wish to see, much like Fandango. The exact amount for the ticket is instantly transferred to the card and you present it at the ticket window or kiosk like you would any other debit card.

Forbes gives the service three stars out of five. Opinion writer Rob Cain described an exasperating tale of walking 25 minutes to the theater only to find the movie sold out, something the MoviePass app failed to tell him.

“The service is nice when it works and frustrating when it doesn’t,” Cain said. Getting a ticket isn’t always smooth, prompting anyone with a lack of patience to give up on the service completely. In order to get your money’s worth, you have to really want it.

MoviePass’ biggest downfall is its customer service. Their Facebook page is riddled with complaints about the slow response to customer inquiries. Yet, there are virtually no complaints regarding the service itself.

I’ve never had one single problem with the app or service. I’ve watched over 15 movies in 3 months,” Joshua Parsons said on Facebook. What MoviePass does well is perhaps the most important thing: providing a wide selection of movies at a convenient number of theaters. There are four theaters within 20 miles of Mercer’s campus that accept MoviePass, with AmStar Stadium 16 being the closest.

College students have the most to gain using MoviePass because they usually only pay for themselves. The service is less beneficial to families who would have to open multiple subscriptions to really reap the benefits.

But there are still quirks to the system that can be trying. You can’t order tickets in advance and can only buy tickets on the app when you are within 100 feet of the theater. It also doesn’t grant access to 3D or IMAX movies.

In cities like Los Angeles or New York this is a big issue because theaters get sold out quickly. In smaller areas like Macon, however, purchasing tickets on site isn’t really as problematic since turnout is lower.

People usually see the most movies their first month before reverting back to seeing one movie a month to justify the cost of the subscription. Still, the subscription service can be exploited by the few avid movie goers who plan to milk it for all it’s worth.


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