If you’re a cinephile that enjoys going to movies on a regular basis, your golden ticket to movie theater heaven has just arrived.. with a moviepass.com membership, you get to watch a movie a day.. every day if you want. All for $9.95 a month! *Wwhaaaattt???*
No, this is not a joke, and it certainly isn’t a drill. The Netflix of theatrical experiences is here, and we are jumping for joy.
With no blackout dates, you can watch movies even on opening day, but there are a few restrictions, such as IMAX and 3D films that are excluded from the pass (fine by us), and AMC is apparently not participating (Boooo AMC). What I am personally excited about is the potential to get more butts in the seats to watch indie and mid-budget films that are being vastly ignored by modern audiences. Hopefully having a MoviePass will not only increase attendance but give casual viewers a reason to gamble on the type of films that are suffering to the point where great artists and national treasures of cinema like David Lynch are even considering not making films anymore is not just a travesty, but an indictment of American Movie goers, who vote for which films are financed by ticket sales.. nothing more and nothing less. Hopefully MoviePass will help change the tide.
I signed up for my own Movie Pass so I could give it a shot and will follow up in another article later, but for now let’s enjoy an Empty Kingdom exclusive interview with Ted Farnsworth.
Please Introduce yourself and Moviepass, what is it all about?
I’m Ted Farnsworth — Chairman and CEO of Helios and Matheson Analytics, Inc. (NASDAQ: HMNY), which has just acquired a 51% stake in MoviePass several weeks ago. With this acquisition, we also unveiled a new pricing structure: instead of the previous tiered-plans, now MoviePass subscribers can see a movie every day – a virtually unlimited amount – for $9.95 each month.
Why Moviepass? How long has this been on your radar and what made you pull the trigger?
The HMNY business model creates value to its stockholders by investing in cutting edge technology companies – that have first mover advantage and aim to disrupt their industries. With that in mind, MoviePass is a perfect match.
I really liked MoviePass CEO, Mitch Lowe’s vision to revitalize a challenged industry and really give the people what they want. I’m a data guy, and I saw an opportunity to analyze patterns that we saw, while helping an industry ecosystem. I like to think that Mitch lit a match when he joined MoviePass, and HMNY poured gas on it. What we’re seeing now is the resulting fire.
How are you hoping to affect the culture of movie-going, or the experience of movie theaters by doing this?
The exponential growth we experienced in practically no time is an evidence that HMNY-MoviePass is what consumers were waiting for. After years of studying and analysis we found that people want to go to the movies more often, but the price of a movie ticket keeps going up, preventing people from seeing flicks in theaters. After all, why would you pay $15 for a movie in New York City when you can wait a few months and catch it on Netflix. The ‘Netflix’ route comes at the cost of that ‘Night out at the Movies’ experience – which we are now making more affordable. How do we know? Millennials comprise the biggest segment of society leaving movie theaters because of the cost of tickets. Simultaneously, Millennials make up 75% of MoviePass’s subscriber base. They’re the ones that have grown up with subscription models and like it.
What cultural or social changes do you hope/expect to see in the future because of this?
The movie theater industry has been struggling – When movie studios aren’t making money at the box office, it trickles down through the entire ecosystem, affecting the quality of scripts, performances, marketing – everything. With more, let’s call it, ‘butts in the seats’ – we hope to revitalize this entire ecosystem and really bring people back to the theaters, where we know they want to be. That will also encourage a ‘high on quality–low in budget’ transformation.
How is the theatrical experience different than that of streaming at home? What are the different values for audiences?
Movies and films are really designed to be experienced in a theater — the scores are designed to be heard with that surround sound, the details of facial expressions and lighting to be viewed on a bigger screen. That being said, theaters aren’t devoid of ‘obstacles to enjoyment’ — theatergoers often have to deal with high priced tickets, and other patrons who may be talking. That’s the benefit of MoviePass’s new pricing structure. With subscription at just a one-time fee of $9.95, movie-lovers can see a film every day if they wanted — even the same film multiple times — just in case of a talkative patron.
What is your response from the movie industry, specifically producers and filmmakers?
Generally, the response has been really incredible. Studio Movie Grill, based in Dallas, TX, is heralding MoviePass as something that will allow ‘ease of use’ for its guests. Unfortunately, AMC theaters hasn’t been as welcoming and although MoviePass pays the theaters full-price for all the tickets, AMC has made statements saying we aren’t acting in the best interest of the industry. We’re wondering what part of the model they aren’t understanding. From our perspective and the perspective of movie-goers, it seems like a win-win for everyone.
Do you think this will affect the kinds of movies that make it in theaters, say the mid-level dramas that suffer these days or films that would have needed more time to grow with audiences?
We’re finding that when consumers can see an unlimited number of movies, the films they end up seeing more of are the smaller-budget independent movies and documentaries. It’d be great to see these poignant and often-overlooked movies get the public recognition they deserve.
What is the end-game for Moviepass, how will the data received help audiences get a better experience with entertainment in the future?
There’s great value in data for companies like Facebook and Google — who host movie trailers. At this point in time, if you get a trailer right now for Spiderman on Facebook, Facebook can’t tell if you ever actually go to the movie. When we look at analyzed data from MoviePass — we can. We can tell if you look at ‘Spider-Man’ and look at ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Mission: Impossible,’ we can tell you exactly what movie you went to out of all three trailers. This data will be invaluable to trailer hosting sites, who can charge for that real estate. It’ll also be valuable to movie studios — who can use MoviePass data to do targeted marketing for films and related merchandise. Once MoviePass a that million-strong subscriber pool our ability to pack a theater will make that difference between hit or flop. Also to note: as stated in our 8-K filing, MoviePass will be holding an IPO in 2018.
What can local clubs and movie-going organizations do to join in and make moviepass successful?
We’ve been enjoying some great media attention following our pricing restructure and love hearing from enthusiastic consumers. Now that we’ve surpassed the 150,000 subscriber mark, we’ll be looking to continue this momentum as we move to file an IPO.
Where can people go to learn more or sign up?
For more information and to sign up, visit www.MoviePass.com