There's nothing like going to see a movie in the theater, but it's definitely not a cheap date these days. Tickets run at least $10 in many cities (and way more for 3-D and IMAX), and the concession prices are borderline insulting.
So it's not a shocker that people crashed a movie theater subscription service this week when it drastically cut its monthly fee.
MoviePass announced the screaming deal on Tuesday: for $9.95 a month, you have the option to see up to one movie in theaters per day, every day.
Before this, a MoviePass subscription used to cost as much as $50 in some cities. You can use it pretty much anywhere, since MoviePass supports more than 91 percent of movie theaters nationwide.
Oh, and there's no contract – you can cancel the subscription at any time.
Obviously consumers went berzerk snatching up the offer, and the influx in traffic shut the site down for awhile.
How it works
When you pay for a subscription, you have to download the app. MoviePass then sends you a debit card.
When you get to the theater (you have to be within 100 yards) you can choose the movie you want to see.
MoviePass then automatically loads whatever amount you need to pay for the movie on to the debit card, and you go buy your ticket with that.
So what's the catch?
That seems to be the question on most peoples' minds.
There are a few drawbacks for the consumer, Variety explains, like the having-to-be-within-100-yards-of-the-theater thing – aka no buying tickets for Star Wars or other super-popular films in advance.
Plus MoviePass says you can only buy one ticket per day. So if you're going with another person and it's a theater with assigned seats, it might not be possible to sit together. And you can't use it for 3-D or IMAX films.
But since MoviePass covers the cost of your ticket – which are usually $8-10 anyway – you'd only have to go to two movies a month to come out ahead (and for MoviePass to lose money).
How does MoviePass make money?
The company, which is run by Netflix co-founder and former Redbox president Mitch Lowe, sounds like it wouldn't be profitable.
But Market Watch explains that like most apps, MoviePass collects your “non-personal” information, like your language, zip code, area code, device identifiers and location, and sells it.
One of the company's stakeholders told Bloomberg Technology it's no different than Facebook or Google – the goal is to gain a large customer base and collect data on viewing behaviors that can be used to target advertisements or other marketing materials to subscribers.
Not everyone is happy about it
Movie theater fans seem to be overjoyed with the deal, but a major theater chain is not.
AMC Theaters slammed the company in a press release shortly after the deal came out Tuesday, saying MoviePass is "not in the best interest of moviegoers, movie theatres and movie studios."
AMC says the concept is unsustainable and "only sets up consumers for ultimate disappointment down the road" when it goes out of business.
The company also argued that ticket prices below $10 a month over time wouldn’t be able to generate enough cash to operate quality theaters, and that in turn wouldn't give filmmakers incentive to make great new movies
The company threatened legal action and said it's trying to find a way to opt out of the program.
Lowe told Variety AMC’s reaction is nothing he hasn't seen before.
“This is so much like Blockbuster was when we rolled out Netflix or Redbox,” he told the site. “It’s the big guy being afraid of the little guy offering better value to consumers.”