The Life, Death, and Potential Rebirth of MoviePass

MoviePass has teased a mysterious relaunch. If you’re not familiar with the rise & fall or need a refresher, here’s a timeline of their most significant moments

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MoviePass might be ready to capitalize on just how much movie lovers have missed going to a theater this past year. After shutting down the service in 2019, the company teased that a revival would be on the way. There was a countdown on the company’s website that said, “The movie is about to start,” with no other details. Now that movie theaters are starting to reopen, MoviePass is ready to join in on the fun. 

The subscription-based movie ticket service experienced financial issues due to its business model. The idea was that the company would buy tickets in bulk at full price and offer them for free to users in exchange for a flat monthly fee. MoviePass shook up the theater industry in 2017 when it announced that its subscribers could go to the movies every day for less than $10 a month. To help with revenue, the company later tried removing signature features, created price tiers, and added surge pricing to no avail. The appealing offer helped them reach two million subscribers, but the company still couldn’t shake reports of “negative cash flows” and that they were hemorrhaging money. 

MoviePass was supposed to be the future of movie-watching and would inspire more people to go to the cinema instead of staying home with Netflix. Paying $9.95 a month for a movie a day seemed like the dream deal for movie lovers, but it wasn’t a profitable enough venture to keep the company afloat. Stacy Spikes, one of the service’s original co-founders, successfully bought back the company out of bankruptcy in November 20211, with plans to relaunch it. If you’re not familiar with the rise and fall of MoviePass or if you need a refresher, we’ve put together some significant moments in the company’s history ahead of its promised summer 2022 return.

MoviePass had a rough start

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AMC agreed to a partnership with MoviePass

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Mitch Lowe introduces subscription tiers to MoviePass

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Helios and Matheson purchased a majority stake in MoviePass 

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Controversy follow the company into 2018

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Whenever people in charge of a company start jumping ship, it’s never a good sign. Chief product officer Mike Berkeley left MoviePass in September 2018, just six months after the industry vet was hired. A board of directors member for Helios and Matheson Analytics resigned, citing concerns about corporate management. Things only got worse when New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood began investigating MoviePass’s parent company Helios and Matheson for potential fraud to determine whether the company misled investors regarding its assets. “We believe our public disclosures have been complete, timely, and truthful, and we have not misled investors. We look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate that to the New York Attorney General,” Helios and Matheson said in a statement to CNBC at the time.

MoviePass suspended its service indefinitely

Customers’ credit card numbers were exposed

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MoviePass’s parent company settled in court for $8 million 

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There might be a MoviePass rebirth on the horizon

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It was announced in February that Mark Wahlberg’s production company is working on a docuseries on the chaotic rise and fall of MoviePass. The series will be based on Insider reporter Jason Guerrasio’s coverage of the service. Now fans of the service have had their hopes renewed of MoviePass’s resurrection after an updated official site shows a countdown with the phrase “the movie is about to start.” According to the clock, the big reveal should happen on Monday, March 22, at noon EST. 

 

It was announced on Nov. 11 that one of the company’s cofounders Stacy Spikes purchased the rights to MoviePass in bankruptcy court and has plans to relaunch the company. Spikes gave a statement about the purchase to Insider, saying, “I can confirm that we acquired MoviePass out of bankruptcy on Wednesday. We are thrilled to have it back and are exploring the possibility of relaunching soon. Our pursuit to reclaim the brand was encouraged by the continued interest from the moviegoing community. We believe, if done properly, theatrical subscription can play an instrumental role in lifting moviegoing attendance to new heights.”The purchase didn't include the company’s data or former customers’ email addresses. 

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MoviePass was put up for sale in bankruptcy court last year, and according to Insider, the “minimum bid set by the trustee was $250,000” and “there were no competitive bids” at the time. In February, Spikes hosted an event to announce that a new, updated version of MoviePass, with new features, would be available in summer 2022. 

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