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MoviePass Beta “On Hiatus” as Theaters Balk

MoviePass screen

If you were looking forward to getting in on the beta test of MoviePass this weekend, we’re sorry to say that you need to lower your expectations.

The other day we brought you the news that a new service called MoviePass was going to launch in San Francisco this weekend that would allow you to watch unlimited movies in theaters for $50 a month, or four movies a month for $30.  The initial test was to include 21 theaters around the Bay Area, seven of which were owned by the AMC theater chain, and a few by Landmark.  The only problem is, it seems that MoviePass, which is partially backed by AOL, didn’t think to talk to those chains prior to announcing this concept.

Yesterday evening AMC sent out the following press release:

Kansas City, Mo. (June 30, 2011) – AMC Theatres® (AMC), a leading theatrical exhibition and entertainment company, today announced it will not participate in the beta test of MoviePass, an initiative launching this weekend in the San Francisco area.

“Plans for this program were developed without AMC’s knowledge or input,” said Stephen Colanero, chief marketing officer at AMC Theatres. “As MoviePass is currently designed, it does not integrate well into our programs and could create significant guest experience issues.”

Some concerns with the program include AMC Stubs members’ ability to receive credit when purchasing a MoviePass. AMC Stubs, the company’s rewards program, was rolled out in April 2011 and rewards participants for ticket and concessions purchases.

“As MoviePass was created without AMC’s input and testing, we cannot confidently say the guest experience would be positive for our guests and specifically our AMC Stubs members,” said Colanero. “We were surprised to see the press release and subsequent press coverage of MoviePass earlier this week as it included several of our San Francisco locations. It was news to us to see that we were participants and we will be communicating to those theatres they are not to accept MoviePass.”

Um … oops?

Dominic Espinosa, director of operations for Camera Cinemas has said that his theaters will not be accepting the tickets, and Chief Executive Officer Ted Mundorff of Landmark said that they will be preventing the tickets from being accepted.  According to Variety, after speaking to reps for all 21 theaters involved in the test, not a one of them had talked to MoviePass prior to the announcement that they were involved in the plan.

“I don’t think we’re going to get it solved with this long weekend coming up,” MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes told Variety. “There are just a lot of important people on vacation right now and too much to be worked out.”

Here’s a crazy idea, perhaps you should have worked it out prior to announcing it?  While I’m all for people coming up with bold new ideas that shake up industries, one would think that common sense might tell you to talk to the businesses that would be accepting your tickets prior to announcing it.  Shouldn’t theater employees have been trained on this?  Shouldn’t you have made sure it integrated with their systems?  When the announcement went out on Tuesday, I’ll be honest, I assumed all of these issues had been addressed as one would in a situation such as this.  It never crossed my mind that a company would announce people were taking their product without actually talking to them at first.

I highly doubt we’ll ever see MoviePass launch now because there will be a lot of bad blood over this.  Perhaps some sort of deal can be arranged, but by MoviePass being so overly anxious, they may very well have killed themselves before they even left the gate.

What do you think about MoviePass trying to launch without consulting the theaters?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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