Movie Pass is a subscription service that allows you to view up to one regular 2D movie per day at the theater. It works by linking a special debit card with your smart phone. When you arrive at the theater, your phone’s GPS will verify the location in the app. Within the app you select your movie and the debit card will be activated for the box office purchase.
The service is $9.95 per month with no commitment. Costco has a prepaid subscription for 25% off that also includes a 12 month Fandor.com membership. That turns out to be $7.50 per month. The Movie Pass subscription is per person and requires each person to have a smart phone with the Movie Pass app installed (available for both Andriod and iOS). The bonus Fandor.com membership through the Costco bundle is for film enthusiasts who like eclectic movies. It’s not for me. In fact, I have membership codes to gift to the first two individuals who are interested.
If you see at least one movie per month at the theater this service is a great deal. The price of admission at my local theater is $12.50 for an adult evening pass. If you saw one movie per day all year long you would be saving $4,472.50 ($12.50 X 365 = $4,562.50 less $90 for the discounted annual price). With this subscription you also won’t feel inclined to wait until a movie is released on Blu-ray or DVD, especially for the non-block buster movies.
Movie Pass supports more than 4,000 theaters across the United States. Early subscribers who were disappointed by the lack of supported theaters will be pleased to find many of their local theaters are now available. All of the local theaters in my area are supported by Movie Pass. You can check by going to http://moviepass.com and scrolling to the map. Some theaters support an E-Ticket option which allows you to purchase your ticket before going to the theater but none of my local theaters support that option.
Who should not sign up for this service? Steer clear for the following situations:
- You view seven or less movies per year at the theater.
- You prefer to see 3D, IMAX, DBOX, or other special screen options in the theater.
- You want to reserve tickets and seats in advance.
- You have zero patience for app glitches or customer service delays that may cause you to miss part of your movie.
How does Movie Pass make money? Movie pass has revenue from subscriptions, advertising, and revenue sharing deals. They are not currently profitable. Their subscriber base exploded in late 2017 when price dropped from $50 per month to $10 per month. Movie theaters receive revenue for the full value of the ticket price but Movie Pass is looking to forge lucrative revenue sharing contracts with theaters and movie studios.
My wife and I ordered subscription codes from costco.com on Jan 26th. Overnight the codes arrived from ticketops.com and I signed up on Jan 27th using the Costco specific redemption page at https://www.moviepass.com/costco. The special debit cards arrived six days later on Feb 2nd, just in time for the weekend. We arrived at the box office 5 minutes before the movie started. While standing in line, we opened the app, found the theater and time, and then pushed the check-in button. A spinner showed on the screen but nothing happened. We stepped out of line while we waited several minutes for the operation to complete. It didn’t stop spinning so I decided to step in line and attempt to purchase the ticket anyways. The transaction was rejected. Finally, we opened the Help & Feedback section of the app and requested help through the chat option. The phone number on the back of the card gives a pre-recorded message that directs you to use the app help option. There was no response from customer support. We were now late for the movie. Closing and re-opening the app didn’t help. My wife had the brilliant idea to sign out and sign back into the app with her login and password. Suddenly the check-in operation completed on her phone and she was able to purchase a ticket, success! I tried the same on my phone with no luck. I checked the GPS settings and did a trial with Waze to confirm my phone location was registered properly. I signed in and out three more times before finally being able to complete the check-in operation. However, my excitement was short lived because the debit transaction was still rejected. At this point the box office attendant felt bad and said the manager would allow me to go ahead into the movie, free of charge. It was a kind and generous offer but I was stubborn and really wanted to see if the card could be used successfully. Finally, I made a last desperation attempt to charge the debit card and it worked! We had our tickets in hand. By the time we found our seats we were 30 minutes late into the movie. We missed about 15 minutes of previews/ads and 15 minutes of the movie. The technical issues we faced made for a poor first time experience. We finally got a response from the customer support two hours later after the movie was finished. My theory is that the issues were related to first time card activation. Next time we plan to arrive earlier to the theater and we’re hoping things will go more smoothly.
April 2018 Update: MoviePass.com has updated their iOS app and we’ve had a completely seamless experience since our initial try. We’ve now seen several movies in the theater without any issue. It has been working perfectly.
September 2018 Update: Movie Pass ran into financial trouble and started to enforce viewing restrictions on their movies. The limitations were so severe that after two months we did not view a single movie with the membership. Finally, we opted to cancel our subscription and obtain a refund for the unused portion of the subscription from Costco.