MoviePass was an immediately enchanting idea and it was cool while it lasted, but time has run out for the service and things are going further and further south. The service is now at the center of a class-action lawsuit against parent company Helios and Matheson and CEO Ted Farnsworth and CFO Stuart Benson by shareholders over false and misleading statements about the business prospects for the venture.
A year ago to the day as I write this, I wrote about MoviePass here, introducing its features and my concerns about it. I ended up subscribing to the service, though, because I love seeing movies and I love not spending money. I recently ended up killing my subscription for reasons unrelated to the service changes, but the continued changes would’ve triggered it regardless just a couple weeks later.
Over the summer, I switched from my Galaxy S6 to a new phone. Well, a new used phone. It’s an extremely good Google Pixel, and I love using it, but it came with an unlocked bootloader, which is perfectly fine for most applications. But MoviePass won’t even install on a device with an unlocked bootloader, and spending a literal day dealing with reconfiguring my phone – all that two-factor authentication stuff is time consuming – just wasn’t worth it for an app I use two or three times a month.
It was right around the time that I had decided to cancel that the news really started to turn for the company. Plans were being revised, and MoviePass was starting to do some weird stuff with what we could and couldn’t see, so after letting it sit for a couple weeks I decided to cancel the service, and that’s when I discovered that the very thing that first pointed me in that direction was going to make the process take well over a week to actually execute.
MoviePass wants you to cancel through the app, and makes it hard to find request form on the website, while communicating with MoviePass through Twitter DM was a miserable experience that took me days to complete.
MoviePass started out with a ridiculous promise: see any movie you want, a movie a day, for just $10 a month. The math breaks down faster than my 1999 Mazda Protege. Now, the same price will let you choose from “up to six films daily” up to 3 times per month. Most of the current big hits and most interesting movies – Mission: Impossible – Fallout, The Meg, Eighth Grade,Blackkklansman, Crazy Rich Asians – aren’t available on today’s schedule. If you go on Sunday, you can see the latter two. If you wait until Monday, The Meg is up there, but it’s not there on Tuesday. Instead of seeing a movie whenever you want, you can see some movies when MoviePass says you can. Are you tired yet?
It’s no secret that movie theaters are struggling to pull in viewers when movies are hitting Blu-ray and digital services faster than ever, and it’s more and more common that people have big Ultra HD screens at home that are capable of filling your eyespace without having to listen to the guy next to you breathe SO LOUD, do you really need to breathe like that, my dude? Or that person two rows up constantly checking their phone with the brightness turned to what seems like about 150%. Movie theaters should be working hard to pull in people however they can, and MoviePass seems like an interesting step toward that, but it’s not working.
Unless you don’t care what movie you watch, then yeah, you can see three movies a month for just $10, and that’s still a good deal, but it’s gone from an almost effortless thing to this exhausting, frustrating thing. It was cool while it lasted, but the dream is over.