I received information on MoviePass, a service to let you see unlimited movies for a monthly fee, and was instantly interested. Then disappointed. It sounded like an awesome plan based on the fact I see a bunch of movies. After getting feedback from friends and digging in I found out not many people should be joining this plan.
The first thing to stand out is that the terms of service specify you may only see a movie one time. Yes, I said one time! When there is a good movie I may see it with different friends a few times over. I understand not seeing multiple movies per day, but never the same show?
So let us start from the beginning. You sign up for the MoviePass service (if you really want in after reading all this here is a link) and receive a 30 day trial where you may cancel with no penalty, but must pay for any movie costs over the monthly fee of $29.99. So if you see 4 movies that are $10 each in the first 30 days then attempt to cancel, you would owe an additional $10.01 (the $40 – $29.99 membership fee).
If you decide to stay with MoviePass past the 30 days you pay $24-39.99/month for a calendar year. You may then cancel with no penalty after the 12 months. If you decide to cancel during the 1-12 moth period you have some additional fees to pay. There is a $20 cancellation fee (which is strangely 2/3 of a monthly fee) and the cost of any movies over what you have paid in monthly fees.
Once you are using the service there are more rules:
You agree to choose the movie title, theater, and showtime on the day of the performance
So this means you cannot plan even a day in advance to see a movie. A day starts and ends at 2am per the site rules. Movies may NOT be 3D, IMAX or specialty. Otherwise they currently let you see a movie at any time of day. In the forums I also found this interesting twist that not only must you order the same day, but then also use the card within 30 minutes of ordering the ticket through the app.
Reading the Terms of Service I ran across a gem not found on the other sites I used when investigating the service:
Subscription fees may be increased by MoviePass to reflect changes in standard ticket prices, inflation, MoviePass’s costs, and additional taxes and costs not imposed by MoviePass. Any changes will take place at the end of the period for which fees have been paid, and will be introduced in the next billing cycle.
What the hell? So your monthly fee and contract is totally up to them and is not a lock or guarantee for the year cycle. This goes against what I would expect. They are betting you do not use the service as much as you pay and what current prices are. You are betting you will see enough movies a month to pay for and exceed the fee. But at any time they can just raise it to account for that.
They can also cancel your account at any time if they feel you are not acting appropriate. Like sharing it, miss a payment or they suspect fraud.
MoviePass may suspend the subscription and temporarily deactivate your account at any time for any reason or none whatsoever
In addition, if the $ (dollar) amount of tickets redeemed during the length of subscription exceeds the total subscription fees paid thus far, the user will be responsible for the difference.
You may also not buy tickets via Fandango or other ticketing sites.
It is possible to see a couple new movies every week but this might raise a flag on your account. It is also possible that the cost of amount of movies you see plus the $20 is less than the subscription fees you have paid. If this is the case you get nothing back. They keep that. If you go over then you pay.
If you happen to lose your MoviePass card it will cost you $10 to get a replacement. It seems the MoviePass card is basically a debit card they keep stocked with funds and only works at theaters that Discover Card is accepted for now. Also do not accidentally select the wrong time or miss your movie. NO refund and it counts for not only that days movie but seeing that movie one time.
There is also a huge Terms of Service section on BlueRay and DVD rentals that make no sense as I see nowhere that they actually do that service. I know they tried to launch a year ago and failed, but I wonder if they are also going after Netflix now or did before. They also had a second attempt by printing vouchers at home but this allowed theaters to reject them as well.
I also caught glimpses of a gift program but the links did not work. Reading the web they are looking at up to 90 day gift programs. This would allow them to offer service as an excellent holiday gift. But would you be exempt from paying more than the value and no cancellation fees? If so I would buy myself gift packs all year.
What are your options?
Buy movie tickets in bundles from your own local chain. Most theaters offer discounted bundles that allow you to see almost any movie (some restrict discounts till after opening weekend) over and over too. Here is an example of a St Louis chain with bundles.
Sites like DealFlicks that work like a Priceline for flights. You get discounted tickets to a time/date/show and pay up front in return for the tickets. Everyone wins. DealFlicks in not in every city, or even close at this time, but I see that idea taking off to fill those empty theater seats and times.
Side note, it seems that MoviePass is hiring and even offers tons of beer and the guy in this forum (halfway down) does some great math analytics