It’s over, folks. The bell has officially tolled for MoviePass. The pioneering movie theater subscription service will shut down tomorrow, September 14, 2019. The news should come as no surprise after the company spent the last two years in the news cycle for a series of price hikes, system shutdowns and alterations to the business model.
MoviePass parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics announced in a statement on Friday afternoon that its “efforts to recapitalize MoviePass™ have not been successful to date. The Company is unable to predict if or when the MoviePass™ service will continue.” They continued, “The Company is continuing its efforts to seek financing to fund its operations. There can be no assurance that any such financing will be obtained or available on terms acceptable to the Committee.”
The tumultuous two-year journey of MoviePass’ struggled started in a bit to provide affordable movie tickets through a subscription, first via a card then an app, that struggled endlessly with the aforementioned business issues and financial struggles.
The most recent round of news included massive layoffs for company staff, and a report from TechCrunch that the company exposed “tens of thousands of customer card numbers and personal credit cards because a critical server was not protected with a password.” The system suddenly shut down in July, but the halt was supposedly temporary, leaving subscribers without any timeline on a potential return.
Even if it’s not a surprise, it’s a damn shame to see the company go down like this. MoviePass has been around since 2011 with a tiered subscriber plan but they started ramping up to a household name in 2017, when the company launched their irresistible $9.99-a-month plan, allowing subscribers to see one movie a day per month. It sounded too good to be true, and it was. Soon after, the company found themselves in an endless dance trying to make the money work, eventually reducing the amount of films subscribers could see per month and limiting the available titles by blacking out some of the biggest releases.
MoviePass also struggled to make partnerships with major theater chains, some of which were inspired to create ticket subscriptions of their own; most notably, the AMC Stubs A-list program, which allows subscribers three tickets per week for a monthly $20 fee. In that way, there’s no denying that MoviePass shook up the long-struggling film distribution industry and pointed towards a way to keep filmgoers in theater seats after the rise of streaming and VOD. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find a way to make a sustainable business plan for themselves (at least yet, as the press release does mention hopes for the future,) but there’s no doubt that the MoviePass saga has been a fascinating moment in film history.