MoviePass Returns After Its Disastrous, Comical Implosion
from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept
After imploding in a spectacular fireball several years ago, MoviePass is giving things another try.
The service has announced that it’s preparing to relaunch on Labor Day, nearly three years after the company was effectively shamed out of existence in spectacular fashion. While the remnants of MoviePass were sold to a private equity firm in 2017, original co-founder Stacy Spikes bought the company back last year and hopes customers have short memories.
Originally, the MoviePass business model seemed like a semi-sensible idea, though we were quick to wonder if it would ever actually make a profit.
Under the model, users paid $30 (eventually $10) a month in exchange for unlimited movie tickets at participating theaters, provided they signed up for a full year of service. There were, of course, caveats: you could only buy a ticket per day, and could only buy one ticket per movie. It also prohibited users from viewing 3D, IMAX, or XD films. Still, the proposal was widely heralded by some as a savior for the traditional, brick and mortar, sticky floor movie industry.
It wound up… not being that.
In 2019, a four-month investigation by Business Insider revealed MoviePass had been bleeding money for years, and misleading investors for much of that time. Not only was the idea never really profitable, the company couldn’t even manage to acquire enough plastic to keep up with membership card demand.
Showcasing the width and depth of the dodgy effort, at one point executives genuinely thought it would be a good idea to actually change user passwords so they couldn’t use the service, thinking this would give them enough time to get their head above water:
“The company tried other tactics to actively make its service hard to use, like when it limited the ability for users to see high-profile films like Avengers: Infinity War and Mission Impossible: Fallout. Employees say Lowe demanded they change the passwords of “a small percentage of power users” ahead of those releases to prevent them from ordering tickets through the app, telling people that it was a “technical issue.”
Given that degree of fraud and incompetence, it’s fairly incredible that the brand is nontoxic enough to even consider a relaunch. The reconstituted service will cost somewhere between $10 and $30, though users will have to join a waitlist to participate in the new beta.