MoviePass is About To Pass, So Here’s My Movie Ticket Prices Proposal

Game Night movie poster on the left, Thanos of Avengers Infinity War artwork on the right.

Game Night movie poster on the left, Thanos of Avengers Infinity War artwork on the right.

We’re approaching the one-year anniversary of MoviePass offering their $9.95 per month subscription plan. Here’s my proposal for movie ticket prices moving forward.

On August 16, 2017, I emailed my wife about MoviePass, citing an article I saw on Variety. Shortly thereafter, we signed up and waited damn near a month for the card to arrive. Customer service sucked. The week before Thanksgiving, we switched from the $9.95 per month-to-month plan to the $89.99 annual plan. Where we live, movie tickets are at least $11 a pop, so we got our money’s worth within the first 3 months.

A lot of people scratched their heads. There was scoffing. MoviePass done disrupted the piss out of the movie industry and I loved it. Disruption’s not my middle name but I do enjoy an occassional game changer. For instance, when Uber hit the streets, I was more than willing to dance on the graves of taxis and cabs. I got Uber-level excited when MoviePass rolled out the $89.99 annual plan. I even applied to be a Content Manager there. I was sold.

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Aaaand it couldn’t even last a year. I was rooting for MoviePass and was living in denial. Apparently, MoviePass REALLY pissed off a lot of theater chains and has no chance of getting bailed out by any of the exhibitors. But, If we’re being honest… if I were MoviePass brass I’d be hard-pressed not to stick a middle finger or five in the faces of theaters if they’d dookied on my revolutionary idea. But, that’s why I’m stuck in a cubicle as an old, decaying freelancer and not on my golden throne atop the corpses of mine enemies.

Anyone I told about having MoviePass was always like “But how do they make money?” The fuck if I know. Alls I know is it’s getting asses in the seats. Simple logic dicatates that more people at the theater = more money for the theater = more exposure for movies people wouldn’t see in the theater. Even if most of that increased volume aren’t getting concessions, it’s still gotta be more than what theaters saw before MoviePass.

Of course, the money ran out. Big time. MoviePass needed a $5 million emergency loan just to keep the lights on. Every other day, Variety published another article about the demise of MoviePass with headlines like “THE END IS NEAR FOR MOVIEPASS” and MoviePass changed its policies and rules every frickin’ week. I remained unfazed. The Annual MoviePassers like me and the wife – our plan was cock of the walk.

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Then, Friday night happened. We had a nice dinner near the theater, parked our car at the theater, walked up the steps, opened the door and it stayed open as we stared at our iPhones… then we closed the door.

Wife: “Hey, can you check in?”

Me: “Uh… no… I can’t check in… to ANYTHING”

I mean. Anything. Not one movie. How’s that good for business? Not one movie in our area? Yikes. It was at that moment that I came up with the idea for this h’yah post. What reminded me to write about it today? How about YET ANOTHER EMAIL FROM MOVIEPASS ABOUT AN IMPORTANT UPDATE, which you can read below…

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Under our new plan, MoviePass members will be able to see up to three standard movies a month for $9.95, and be given up to a $5.00 discount to any additional movie tickets purchased. Today, 85 percent of MoviePass members go to three movies or less per month, so these changes cater to the majority of our movie-going community.

The new plan will include many major studio first-run films, however there will be some exceptions (note that theaters with e-ticketing will include all movies and showtimes with no restrictions).

We will be suspending Peak Pricing and Ticket Verification requirements for all members in the new plan described above.

Over the coming days, MoviePass members with a monthly subscription renewing on or after August 15th will be given the option in the MoviePass app to transition to the new plan. Quarterly and annual subscribers will not be impacted until their renewal date.

The truth is, disruption and innovation require staying flexible and having an open mind. We genuinely strive to offer you a service that is a great deal, and we believe that the new plan we’re introducing will be attractive to the majority of our members.

It’s been an exciting journey so far, and MoviePass is here to stay. Your endless support, understanding and enthusiasm are greatly appreciated.

It’s gotta be exhausting trying to stay that positive and that defiant in the face of defeat. Whatever, dude. Ya done. You might’ve said annual subs aren’t impacted but not letting us see any movies in our area is strikes 1 through 3. Good morning, good afternoon, good night.

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We don’t mind about the demise of MoviePass because we got our money’s worth and then some. I just feel bad for the suckers who signed up for the annual plan last month or two months ago. Y’all got hosed. Hopefully, they get refunds?

Since MoviePass, AMC and Sinemia have introduced subscription plans but I’m here to propose two non-subscription alternatives:

  1. Movie Ticket Price Based on Movie Budget
  2. Real-Time Movie Ticket Price

Movie Ticket Price Based on MSRP / Movie Budget

When you walk into a CVS to buy deodorant, are they all priced the same?

With this approach, movie studios and distributors disclose a suggested retail price (SRP) PER MOVIE that’s based on the movie’s budget. The exhibitors and theaters then can say ‘Hey, the studio would normally charge you X, we’re offering tickets for half that’. If it sounds car dealer-y, it’s because we just bought a used car to get my fat ass to and from the train station that’s less than a mile away.

Ex: Black Panther (~$200M budget) tickets have a SRP of $20, but you can get ’em here for $15!

The reasoning behind this is simple. Why are we paying the same amount of money for products that have vastly different costs to make? I can’t think of another biz model like this. Going back to the car dealer analogy, is every car on the lot $20,000 regardless of make or model? Does a 2018 Lambo cost the same as a 2018 Suzuki?

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So, why are we paying $11 to see Blockers ($21M budget) and $11 to see Avengers: Infinity War (~$400M)? Shouldn’t we be paying $5 to see Blockers and $16 to see AIW?

What about bombs? I know plenty of people that host Bad Movie Night. You have a bomb on your hands, I guarantee you can find a group of people willing to watch it for $1. 10 people seeing a bomb for $1 (each probably getting a drink or something to eat) vs 1 person seeing a bomb for $11? Those 10 people know what they’re getting with $1 bomb, tell their friends to see it for $1. That one person who saw it for $11? Probably not spreading the gospel.

The studios have projections and forecasts out the anus. They know what they need to make to break even and to profit. If you price a movie’s ticket way too high, the market will let you know. If you price it too low and everybody buys, what’s the problem? Why isn’t there a Toyotathon for movies?

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Is a ticket to see Taylor Swift the same price as the ticket to see Taylor Hicks? How are theaters charging us the same admission to see ‘Super Troopers 2’ as they do for ‘Deadpool 2’?

Real-Time Movie Ticket Price

MoviePass sort of addressed this with their “Demand Pricing”. Economy’s based on supply and demand. Uber has (or had?) surge pricing. Online advertising industry has real-time bidding on available inventory. Why would you pay the same price for an ad in the summer when no one’s online vs. during the holidays when everyone’s online shopping? Same should hold true for the movie industry.

Two tickets left to opening night of the next Star Wars? $100 per ticket! Someone will pay that.

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If a showing isn’t sold out, why wouldn’t the price lower to fill seats?

If a movie is released in historically bad or dead months, make me a deal. Are wool sweaters full price in July?

Look at the Super Bowl or NCAA Championship. The seats don’t change but the price does based on the product on the field or court.

Which brings me to my next point, why are we paying the same price for different seats? You sit in the middle? That’s more. You sit in the front row and break your neck? Take a few bucks off your tix for rehab.

It looks like the monthly or yearly subscription package could become a more consistent offering given the right conditions. Thanks to MoviePass for shaking things up, for their willingness to risk and fail in fantastic fashion, and for getting us back in theaters. You will be missed but not forgotten. Hopefully, we see even more inventive methods for keeping the big screen alive.

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