Is there anything better than going to the movies on the Fourth of July? Sneaking into a cool theater and watching the latest blockbuster before heading out for a night of fireworks and hot dogs. Ah, America! I’m sure plenty of us were planning to do that today.
Well, I’ve got bad news for you if you’re a MoviePass customer.
The troubled company is having issues yet again. The theater-subscription service is completely suspended today and for the foreseeable future as it works on technical issues and updates its app. In the end, this downtime will allow the company to “to recapitalize in order to facilitate a seamless transition and improved subscriber experience once the service continues.” That’s a lot of business jargon that basically means they are low on funds. That’s not very encouraging but also not very surprising. “Once we have resolved these technical problems, the service will be live again,” MoviePass said. “We estimate this process will take several weeks.” A movie-subscription service going dark in the middle of summer? I don’t have to tell you how bad that is.
This is just another hit in a long line of them for MoviePass. The company has had a rough go of it lately. They once promised subscribers that they could see as many films as they wanted (one-a-day, of course) all for ten dollars a month. That price changed over time, with some customers paying nearly $100 for their subscription. Eventually MoviePass changed their tune again, promising unlimited access to theaters for a mere ten dollars again. They then nearly collapsed under the weight of new customers. They couldn’t afford what they offered so they changed their plan again: you could see just three movies a month. But then they released an “unlimited” plan: $14.95 for one movie daily, though some were not available. It was all very complicated and confusing and frustrating to customers. Phew, it tires me out just typing it.
All of these debacles have been bad news for parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics. They are currently the subject of a class-action lawsuit from angry consumers, they’ve lost millions of customers and they’re being probed for securities-fraud by the New York Attorney General. It all comes at a time when theater companies are creating their own MoviePass-like subscriptions. Multiple chains are now allowing moviegoers to pay a monthly fee to see unlimited movies, with rewards that MoviePass never gave. So the business model that MoviePass created has been taken, transformed and made even better by competitors. All of this spells doom for MoviePass.
The truth is that things have been looking bad for the company for some time. We don’t know what the future holds. But I wouldn’t be surprised if, some time in the near future, MoviePass has another outage like the one that started today. And perhaps that future outage just never ends. Perhaps MoviePass finally bites the dust and customers go elsewhere for their needs. MoviePass is the ultimate example of a great idea not being enough.