For Many months now I’ve been recommending MoviePass to everyone I talk to who likes movies. It always had several restrictions that made it hard to justify:

  1. Only one movie per day
  2. You can only see each movie once
  3. No IMAX or 3D (you can’t even pay the upgrade cost)
  4. You can’t pre-buy your movie tickets, you have to go to the theater, check in, and then buy your movies (and if you have multiple people in your party with passes, you have to each make your transaction separately, which causes longer lines at the box office)

These were annoying restrictions but overall I still considered the pass to be a good enough deal to lock myself into a year contract at $34.99/month each (Me and Barbara) and do it. It gave me the opportunity to budget my love of going to the movies to a set amount per month and not have to think about “Do I really want to pay to see this movie in theaters or should I wait for BluRay?” If I was remotely interested in a movie I went to see it, and if it turned out to suck, I didn’t care because I’ll just see another movie the next day for no additional cost.

Unfortunately yesterday MoviePass made a sudden change with no warning that I find absolutely unacceptable, and to make it worse they tried to pass it off as if it was some exciting new feature for their customers.  Yesterday I received an email from MoviePass with a subject line of “New Features.”  This is what MoviePass had to say

Dear Nicholas,

At MoviePass, we are constantly working to build the best theatrical subscription service. We have many exciting new features coming that will improve your experience even more.

As the holidays approach, we have been receiving many requests to purchase MoviePass gifts for loved ones. Our gifting site will be available shortly, and we will notify you as soon as you are able to purchase.

We’re also excited to introduce a new feature: The Countdown Clock. This clock counts down the time until your next available screening. You will still be able to go to a movie each day, but there will be a 24-hour period between screenings. Your MoviePass app has already been updated, and you will notice these changes the next time you see a movie.

If you have any questions, please contact customer service at 877.646.2892, via live chat at www.moviepass.com, or by emailing [email protected]

Thanks again for your loyalty and continued support.

Best,
Stacy Spikes
CEO

They are “excited to introduce a new feature”  What is this new feature that they are so excited to introduce?  A Countdown clock.  This is absolutely ridiculous.  If I go to a movie at 9:30pm on a Friday night, and then on Saturday I want to go to a matinee (which would cost them less) I can’t do it.  If the last showing of the movie I want to go to on Saturday starts at 9:25pm, I can’t do it!

For the most part I only have time to go to movies on the weekend, but this new feature makes it incredibly difficult to go to more than one movie per weekend as your showtimes become incredibly limited.

But the most insulting thing at all is that they would have the audacity to say they were “excited to introduce a new feature” as if this was something that was going to benefit their customers.  When I tried to contact them using their support email about this, I received no answer (still waiting for over 24 hours).  I then went to their live chat, where they had the audacity to say that their “research”  indicated that this wouldn’t effect 95% of their customers.

The only silver lining to this change is that if anyone was having trouble justifying the cost of moviepass and has been looking for a way out of their contract without paying fees to terminate early, MoviePass is giving us 14 days (Until November 13th) to cancel our subscriptions even if we are still on contract without paying their normal penalties.

Despite the backlash on Facebook and Twitter about this, MoviePass has yet to make an official statement at least apologizing for the way they went about this change.  I haven’t canceled my service with them yet, because I’m waiting to see how they address the backlash.  But I assure you, if they don’t do something about this to make it right, I will be canceling my service before November 13th.

Categories: Reviews

Nick Moline

Nick is a Senior Software Engineer at Justia.com, a company that makes legal information freely available online. Besides his work, Nick is an avid enthusiast in areas of Technology, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Musical Theater, and everything Disney.

  • Colin Smith

    Here here, Nick. I’ll give them until the last day to switch it back.

    • My worry is that if everyone waits till the last day they won’t realize how seriously they have hurt their customers. I fear that only if a critical mass of their cliental leave them will they realize they made a mistake and that they need to do something about it.

  • Fernando Leal

    Thanks for the great info regarding the cancellation clause…we too are horribly offended given the deceitful way they went about this breach of contract. They will lose two customers tomorrow.

  • Dan Henderson

    I think they *want* the 5% high-volume subscribers, whom this inconveniences the most, to leave. They’re losing the most money on us.

    And, fair warning: This past Saturday my girlfriend and I tried to see a movie that started at 4:50. The box office told both of us that when they tried to run our MoviePass cards, they got “Server not available” errors. We paid cash and went through the hassle of taking pictures of the tickets, emailing the to MoviePass Support, and requesting a refund.

    On Sunday we tried to go to a 2:50 movie and the app told each of us “Purchase Your Ticket,” but the box office got the same error and once again we had to pay cash, take pictures, and send them to MoviePass Support with a refund request.

    They denied the second request because it hadn’t yet been 24 hours since our Saturday movie. This was in spite of the fact that the card had failed both days, and in spite of the fact that the app gave no indication that we were in violation of the countdown clock restrictions. I closed the Support ticket with a “Bad… Unsatisfied” rating.

  • bralinshan

    I never understood why anyone would lock themselves in at $420 a year UPFRONT for movies. It’s nuts. This company is a niche of a niche and will be gone in a year. There is no problem solved with this business.
    IF you end up saving money, and that’s a HUGE question mark, it wouldn’t be worth spending that much cash upfront for the service.
    There are better alternatives by a MILE. I used something last year that was 40% off (company went out of business) movies. The catch was it was by mail but I kept 6-8 passes at all times.
    Right now, I use Shopping Boss, which is not just movies, but they give 15% cash back whenever I order through Fandango through their site. I guarantee that 15% is more savings than Movie Pass and you spend as you go, not cash upfront. I’m sure there are other sites too if you do some digging. MoviePass WILL NOT last! Or, some sites do big discounts on gift cards, just buy a gift card at a big discount…anything but this stupid business.

    • It is not hard to save money with MoviePass

      At $34.95/month (which is the rate here in the SF Bay area, in some other places in the country it is cheaper) and the cost of movies at the theaters in my area (which vary between $11 and $16 per movie depending on the theater and time of day) it doesn’t take much for the cost to break even for me.

      Assuming an average of $13 a movie I need to see 2.69 movies per month. This means I only need to see 3 movies per month in order to save money. Seeing 3 movies is not hard, if I see 1 movie per week I see 4 movies and I’ve saved money, and if I manage to see more I save a lot of money.

      What MoviePass mostly allows me to do is flatline the movie entertainment budget. I know I can see movies and I know how much it is going to cost me every month.

      This also allows me to not think of the cost of a movie on a per movie basis. Even when buying passes as you suggest there is still a per-movie cost and at times when there are a lot of good movies out to see I have to think about movies individually.

      When I was doing that I would skip movies because I would think “Do I really want to spend money to see this particular movie, I can just wait for the Blu-Ray and rent it later.” and then I would invariably end up skipping movies. Sometimes when I did later see it on Blu-Ray I think to myself “Man that’s better than I thought, I wish I would have seen it in the theater.”

      With MoviePass I don’t pass on movies because of cost. I still pass on movies I have no desire to see, but I know I’m better off seeing as many movies as possible, the more I see the more worth it the $34.95 was, and thus I go to see movies. A few of the movies I would have passed on ended up being better than I expected and I thoroughly enjoyed them (“White House Down” and “The Heat” come to mind).

      Also because my cost is no longer a per movie cost, on those times when I see a movie that I end up not liking (“R.I.P.D.” and “This is The End” come to mind) I don’t feel like I wasted money (just time) and I feel less disappointed than I would have otherwise.

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