My MoviePass Story (In Celebration of the HBO Documentary)

Ah, to be a MoviePass fan. This company has a special place in my heart. Not only did the company make moviegoing cheaper for cinephiles like myself, but everyone has their own MoviePass story to tell. For those unaware, HBO is making a documentary on the company's historic rise and fall. You can watch the trailer below.

Needless to say, I expect this will be a huge ratings hit for HBO (as well as Max, who is starting to gain real traction as one of the streaming services you must have). Not only because the story of MoviePass is an interesting one, but because everyone has their own story about the company.

I'm going to share mine (stick around til the end for a bonus).

I first came across MoviePass around 2015, when a Facebook ad advertised 'Unlimited Movies for $35 a Month.' As someone who was constantly buying premium movie vouchers from Costco that could sometimes amount to a couple hundred dollars a month, this obviously caught my eye. I looked up the site, read what it was about, and decided this was something I needed to try. So, the first thing I needed to do was get a smartphone (I was content with a flip phone, but this was a service that necessitated an upgrade). Then, I signed up. I had to wait for a card to come in, but once I got it I went out to the movies. So impactful was this card that I even remember the first movie I saw with it (Garth Edward's "Lion").

For the record, it was a good movie (and needless to say, I haven't bought a theater voucher from Costco since then). Once I had this baby in my wallet I was instantly hooked. It felt like I had a golden ticket, as I saw movie after movie with this thing (I still had to pay out of pocket for 3D and IMAX films, however, that was a small price to pay considering the hundred or so dollars I was saving on average each month). I tried in vain to get many of my friends to sign up for it, but many pointed to the whole "I don't know if I'll go to the movies enough to justify it" excuse.

Then, the company was bought by Helios and Mathison.

This is a company I had never heard about, but little did I know how this company would take MoviePass and turn it into a whirlwind of a story. Firstly, they installed Mitch Lowe as their new CEO.

He was one of the co-founders of Netflix and former CEO of Redbox, so on paper, it made sense for him to take over "the Netflix for movie theaters" (as it was unofficially dubbed). Believe it or not, contrary to what you may believe, this didn't result in 'the deal of a lifetime' that many MoviePass users remember, as the first thing Lowe did was raise prices. More specifically, he had different tiers you could pay for, with the unlimited option now $99 a month. Granted, the $99 a month now included 3D, IMAX, and other premium screens, so I happily paid it.

This must have resulted in a loss of subscribers though, as a couple months later 'the deal' was announced: MoviePass was going to cost a mere $9.95 a month from that point on. Alright, there were a few restrictions; those IMAX screens were gone and you could only see a movie a day, but what a deal! My girlfriend (now wife) immediately signed up for one as did most of my friends. I went from having to convince my friends to sign up for MoviePass to them jumping all over the thing. And the amount of money we were, I couldn't have been happier. The company was on so much fire I started buying HMNY stock (a decision that would teach me a LOT about investing in stocks).

For several months, everything went smoothly. We were all watching a lot of movies, the price was right, and MoviePass had one of the most dedicated fanbases I had ever seen. It was so active that my iCritic channel (then cheekily called The Failed Journalist) blew up when I started making MoviePass videos.

Needless to say, I was commenting on the whole thing when the ship started to sink. I won't get into too much of that here (the videos are above for you to watch), but needless to say, I was enough of a fanboy that I was still hoping that despite all the setbacks the company would still ultimately survive. Sadly, this would not be the case. The deal of seeing a movie a day for $10 a month ultimately WAS too good to be true, and when MoviePass had to start raising prices people started abandoning ship! Granted, they were already doing that when the service became unreliable, however, the company really floundered when the public found out the deal they were promised wasn't going to last.

MoviePass tried new pricing models and even brought back the $10 plan for a limited time, didn't work (for reasons I'm sure the documentary will explore in more detail). Since then the company has been repurchased by Stacey Spikes after it went bankrupt, and while it isn't the cultural force it once was, it is still a great deal for movie lovers who don't want to be chained to one specific theater (ironically, my card gets used primarily at Cinemark and family-owned theaters since I also have Regal Unlimited and AMC Stubs A-List).

We still have to see where the company goes from here, but the future looks bright. If you want to have a sneak preview of what the company is up to and where they are going, I was fortunate enough to talk to Mr. Spikes on my podcast iCritic LIVE (subscribe on your favorite podcast platform), and you can watch said interview below. Needless to say, I will be tuning into "MoviePass, MovieCrash" the minute it drops, as this is one of the few movies I'm allowing myself to get excited about!