MoviePass is updating its monthly subscription pricing again, this time with a three-tier structure in which pricing will vary depending on where the subscriber is located and the types of movies that customer wants to see.
The new, more complicated pricing initiative becomes effective Jan. 1, the majority-owned subsidiary of Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY) said Dec. 6. The announcement followed what the company said in a press release were “months of determined testing.”
The announcement followed several months of complaints from MoviePass subscribers, after the company started significantly limiting the movie options that members could see at their local theaters on any given day. The announcement also followed an increased number of competing subscription plans, including most prominently AMC Stubs A-List.
All the 2019 MoviePass plans offer users three movies a month. MoviePass boasted that’s “the equivalent of up to 36 movies per year in a variety of movie-going options, and will target the casual moviegoer — by far the largest portion of the movie-going public.”
The company was vague about what geographic areas will constitute the three regions under the new pricing strategy: Zones 1, 2 and 3. MoviePass didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the announcement, the company said the new geographic initiative was “designed to reflect the differences in the average ticket price in different areas of the country,” suggesting that the highest-priced plans will be for major cities including New York City.
The new plans start at the entry-level Select plan, starting at $9.95 a month for Zone 1, in which subscribers will be able to see three movies a month “at some point during their theatrical run through a programming model” that, at launch, “will exclude” opening weekends, the company said. Title selection in that plan also includes only standard 2D movies. “As product enhancements take place, more titles will become available,” including on opening weekends, and this plan “will ultimately result in a showtime-driven, inventory model,” it said.
The Select plan will cost $12.95 a month in Zone 2 and $14.95 a month in Zone 3.
The new All Access plan will start at $14.95 a month and will include opening weekends of movies, but still just standard 2D films. It will cost $17.95 in Zone 2 and $19.95 in Zone 3.
The third plan, Red Carpet, will start at $19.95 a month and will add on the ability for subscribers to select a RealD 3D, Imax 2D, Imax 3D or other Premium Large Format screening as one of their three movies for the month. It will cost $21.95 for Zone 2 and $24.95 for Zone 3.
MoviePass is also offering All Access and Red Carpet plans at reduced rates for 12 months for a limited time this holiday season, it said. A single All Access subscription for 12 months costs $119.95, while two or more All Access subscriptions for 12 months cost $99.95 per subscription for a limited time. During the same period, consumers can buy a single Red Carpet subscription for 12 months at $149.95, and two or more Red Carpet subscriptions for 12 months at $139.95 per subscription.
Those limited-time offers started Dec. 6 and MoviePass didn’t say when they will end.
The company also said it “will communicate the various options available to its current subscribers, including the option to remain on an existing plan.”
The new pricing is “eerily similar to AMC’s pricing, and AMC is barely making money,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA). He added: “MoviePass may survive with the new pricing, but they are unlikely to thrive.”
Announcing the new pricing plans, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe said in the news release: “Change is necessary. We won the hearts of millions of moviegoers, now we need to win back their confidence. We realize that the past year brought our subscribers many modifications and even some surprises, some of which weren’t well-received; but we listened, we reassessed, and we believe we are primed to offer the American consumer the absolute best offering across America in 2019 and beyond.”
Calling the new strategy a “viable business model that partners with exhibition and distribution,” HMNY CEO and chairman Ted Farnsworth said: “We view the model as the foundation to reach new members and regain positive momentum in the marketplace.”