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MoviePass is dead (for real this time)

MoviePass, the unlimited subscription movie service, is finally shutting its doors for good.
MoviePass, the unlimited subscription movie service, is finally shutting its doors for good.
Image: SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

MoviePass, the once uber-popular movie subscription service, is shutting down. For real.

In a press release published on Friday and first noticed by CNBC, Helios and Matheson Analytics — MoviePass’ parent company — announced the shutdown of the service. Subscriptions will cease to work on Saturday.

“MoviePass notified its subscribers that it would be interrupting the MoviePass service for all its subscribers effective September 14, 2019, because its efforts to recapitalize MoviePass have not been successful to date,” says the statement. “The Company is unable to predict if or when the MoviePass service will continue.”

In addition to the demise of the service, the company’s board of directors has formed a strategic review committee in order to explore the sale of its assets, which include MoviePass, its film production arm MoviePass Films, and Moviefone. MoviePass had acquired Moviefone, the internet staple movie showtime and ticketing website, just last year.

MoviePass launched in 2011 offering a monthly $ 50 subscription to tickets for an unlimited number of movies playing in theaters. The company experimented with lower prices for years before finally blowing up in the summer of 2017 when it found the sweet spot for customers: unlimited movies for $ 9.95 a month.

With its new pricing model, MoviePass grew exponentially, peaking at around 3 million subscribers. Its growth became overwhelming for a company that was burning cash, mostly because its business model required it to actually buy each customer’s $ 8 to $ 15 movie ticket at cost. MoviePass tried data collection practices to bring in revenue, as well as rolling out controversial limits like surge pricing, to no avail. It didn’t help that movie theater chains like AMC Theaters hated the service and for a time would not accept MoviePass cards as payment.

Over the past two years, MoviePass has seemingly died a half dozen different times but always came back. However, the company is also now dealing with lawsuits, an investigation by the New York Attorney General, and data leaks. The company’s money issues and overall shady practices persisted as well.

Earlier this year, MoviePass’ main independent competitor, Sinemia, abruptly shut down as well, proving perhaps that the business model of unlimited movie tickets just doesn’t work. That is, unless you’re also running the movie theater that’s selling the tickets. Forced to roll out similar services due to the popularity of MoviePass at its height, theaters like AMC and Regal Cinemas still run their own monthly subscription plans. In the end, maybe that will be MoviePass’ lasting legacy.

So tomorrow, September 14, after watching it die a thousand deaths and be carried around each time like a scene out of Weekend at Bernie’s, we bury the zombie corpse of MoviePass once and for all. Maybe.

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