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MoviePass is returning. Here's what you need to know

MoviePass is back after going bankrupt in 2020. This time, it will have a tiered price system and credits to use toward movies each month.
Stringer
/
Getty Images
MoviePass is back after going bankrupt in 2020. This time, it will have a tiered price system and credits to use toward movies each month.

Any movie, any theater, anytime you want, for 10 bucks a month.

At one point, that was a sales pitch of subscription service MoviePass, and millions signed up.

Now, if that all sounds too good to be true, it's because it was. The company burned through millions of dollars and went bankrupt in 2020. But now it's back, and CEO and co-founder Stacy Spikes says this time will be different.

What has changed?

For starters, this time there will be a tiered price system, and credits will be involved.

Prices will vary a bit depending on location, but generally prices will be $10, $20 and $30. Each price comes with credits to use toward movies each month.

"And so, if I want to go only on Friday night of opening weekend, I'm probably going to use the maximum number of credits, if you think of peak and off-peak pricing," Spikes said. "But let's say I don't have a problem going to see that movie a few days later on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday night. I can use far fewer credits because the theaters are more open to allowing a lower price."

MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes says the company has negotiated prices differently this time.
Richard Drew / AP
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AP
MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes says the company has negotiated prices differently this time.

Won't MoviePass just lose money again?

Spikes says the company has changed its business model too.

Part of the reason the old MoviePass failed was because it was paying full price for the tickets it was offering its subscribers, he said. This time, MoviePass has negotiated deals with theaters.

"Even prior to launch, we've negotiated partnerships with more than 25% of all the theaters. If you take out AMC, Regal and Cinemark, we've got 40% market share outside of the big three," he said.

Don't those big theaters have their own subscription services?

Yes, some do. Spikes is banking on MoviePass subscribers wanting to mix up their moviegoing.

"What we've found is the consumer tends to go to three to four different movie theaters over the course of a year," he said. "So you'll have your summer-blockbuster theaters. You'll have your art house theaters. And so what we found is moviegoers like variety."

He said if people live somewhere that has only an AMC or Regal theater, then they won't subscribe to MoviePass. "But if you want the freedom to go wherever you want and find the same value, then you're going to want something like MoviePass."

MoviePass is making its comeback — but will it be triumphant?
Darron Cummings / AP
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AP
MoviePass is making its comeback — but will it be triumphant?

Do people have the money?

Movie attendance cratered during the coronavirus pandemic as people avoided indoor gatherings, and numbers aren't quite back to pre-pandemic levels, as many feel cost of living pressures and high inflation.

Still, Spikes is confident that people will come.

"People like to escape. It's still the least expensive form of out-of-home entertainment there is," he said. "Going to a sporting event or to a Broadway play or to the opera is still going to be a $100-plus ticket. So we think it's a wonderful time to get started again."

When will it begin?

MoviePass is asking people to join the waitlist on its website, which will be open until Aug. 29 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

Once the waitlist closes, MoviePass will be rolled out in waves across the U.S., starting "on or around" Sept. 5, according the company's website, with locations based on engagement of the waitlist in each location and the locations of partnering theaters.

Some 463,000 people signed up in the first 24 hours, according to Insider. This included 30,000 sign-ups in the first five minutes, which caused MoviePass' server to crash.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ziad Buchh