On September 3, 2016 I posted a blog on my old blog titled ‘Ryan’s Thoughts on Moviepass 50% Price Increase.’  I’m sure most never read it – it was hard to find the old blog and it was very slow loading.  No worries – I am going to post those original thoughts below (after my abundance of new thoughts).

I cancelled Moviepass after three amazing months using the product.  For a guy who loves movies like me Moviepass was originally an amazing product.  But when they raised prices 50% after just three months I cancelled.  I’m fine with seeing less movies a month.  AMC Theaters has their AMC Stubs cards which offers discount movies on Tuesdays and most shows before 12PM are very cheap.  So I can still see my movies and not spend a fortune doing so.

It wasn’t too soon that after I cancelled Moviepass offered an amazing Groupon.  It was for the old prices.  It was for new customers only.  After raising the prices on ALL of their existing customers they were looking to hook more.  The thing was customers weren’t just raised 50% like I was.  Some were raised 75%.  100%.  The pricing scheme went out of control (and still is).  I said it multiple times on Twitter and Facebook – they are GOUGING their own client base.  And lost a ton of subscribers to boot.  So like a good crack dealer Moviepass offered the Groupon at the low price to try and hook you, then raise those rates WAY UP once the offer is done.  Problem is Moviepass isn’t crack.  You don’t need to smoke movies all the time.

I actually got e-mails from Moviepass telling me to give it as a gift for the holidays.  I was aghast.  Did Moviepass really have the balls to tell me to give this as a gift?   They did.  I posted a picture of the e-mail on Moviepass Facebook page.  They said sorry in some sort of corporate speak.

The funny thing is they don’t care about their customers and didn’t care about the price increases.  They didn’t care about people leaving.  They actually thought that these moves would help the company.

Do I care?  Not really. I only care as an observer as I no longer have an attachment.  Still see films.  Saw Patriots Day the other night (again – cheap tickets via AMC Stubs!).

Moviepass promised new features.  I scoffed at that in my original post below.  The new features that they brought in?  Here’s some select images I took from Twitter just within the past few days about what is happening to Moviepass customers.

So now there are ticket allotments per theater.  Don’t get your ticket quick enough?  Sorry – no movie.  No movies before 6PM?  What is that?  Until you try to get a movie after 6PM and you can’t because the app has everything ‘grayed’ out.  Meaning?  Meaning you can’t pick the movie you want to see.

Moviepass customers are literally paying for a film service they find themselves unable to use.  But no worries – there are “no blackout dates.”

There’s word that they are trying to broker new deals with new theaters.  There’s rumors that there are zero deals with theater chains like AMC and Loews (I won’t bother to look into it – I’ll just report what I read).

If AMC Theaters was smart they would jump into doing something similar with their Stubs program.  Have AMC Stubs Deluxe where you get X movies a month for $X.XX.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they did it in the future.  It would be smart – they can look at Moviepass business model and see what worked…and what did not.

CEO Mitch Lowe continues to tout Moviepass as the next greatest thing and the Hollywood Reporter is just the latest to placate his ego by writing a nice puff piece.  There’s no hard hitting questions on what is driving away customers in droves.  I mean I completely understand that the Hollywood Reporter is not the New York Times.  But I certainly would LOVE to see what Cinema Lowdown would ask if they got a one-on-one interview with Lowe.  They understand the pain and plight of what is happening to Moviepass and their customers.  They repost on Twitter a multitude of customers who are just puzzled, angry, mad, hurt, and sad at not being able to use the product they pay for…which they now pay out of the nose for.  I DARE MITCH LOWE TO SIT DOWN WITH CINEMA LOWDOWN.  My money is that he won’t go near them with a ten foot pole.

Why do I care?  Because I love films.  I love the cinema.  And I think this is a good product.  At least it used to be.  If someone came up with something similar I’d probably join right up.  But Moviepass?  I think it is broken beyond belief and I hope the end is sooner for them rather than later.  At least this way the torture can stop for their own customers.

My original piece is below:

I’m a casual movie watcher. I get to the movies perhaps two to three times a month to see films. I’m a cheapskate AND I hate crowds so I usually show up on a Saturday morning when the flicks are 6 bucks and there’s less of a crowd than Friday night. I’m not much for the smaller films – I usually see the bigger films that interest me.

My friend got me into Moviepass. For just $30 bucks a month you can see one movie a day. “Not bad,” I thought. I love movies. At home I devour a lot of films. So why not see everything new in theater instead of waiting to find out about it on home video, Netflix, or HBO?

I signed up for Moviepass three months ago. I averaged about two to three movies a week for the summer. I saw many summer blockbusters that I probably never would have seen if I had to pay money for it – I truly had zero interest in seeing the new Ghostbusters film. But a movie a day, right? So I saw it. And since my local theater gets a great number of indie films I got to check out flicks like The Lobster, Maggie’s Plan, The Neon Demon, and others. It’s sometimes hard to find a diamond in the rough for me with the indie flicks but I did enjoy about 50% of what I saw.  Overall I enjoy having my Moviepass. Well, I enjoyed having it.

This week I received an e-mail stating that my rate was going up to $45 a month for the service. I wasn’t the only one. Members all over the country began getting e-mails saying their prices were increasing. The funny thing was all rates weren’t equal. Some were $40. Some got $45. Or $50. There’s probably some rhyme or reason that Moviepass knows about but really it was just about raising more money.

The e-mail Moviepass sent stated that “we are committed to helping you see more movies in theaters, while helping you save money.” Weird how charging 50% more for your product is going to save me money. They continue, “As we consider new feature requests, we must also consider the rising cost of tickets.” For the record – movie prices do increase but only slightly. They don’t raise by $15 in one shot.

On Twitter and Facebook the Moviepass customers balked. They took the line ‘new feature requests’ as fixing up the online app. This is something, they said, that Moviepass has been promising for YEARS and have never done. Many complain that the app is broken a lot. I can attest to that. I had gone to my theater for two months when suddenly every film was unavailable to be watched. Not just for one day, nor two days, but continued on. They did eventually fix it in under a week but obviously the app has problems. They could use money to fix the app – but do they really need to gouge their own customers to do so?

An article in Variety from July 1, 2016 talked about Moviepass, the CEO, and experimenting with pricing. The article talks about how Moviepass is sometimes seen as an advesary and not an ally. The CEO, Netflix co-founder Mitch Lowe, talks in the article how Moviepass can help bolster tickets sale and concession revenues during a time where people are going to the cinemas less. This is very true in my case especially when it comes to concessions. I have lunch 12 o’clock on the dot daily. I leave work around 4 and go to the theater where I’ll usually pick up something to eat or drink – since I won’t be getting home from the theater until 6:30-7:30. My having Moviepass does create extra revenue for the theater.

Sorry AMC Theaters. Not anymore.

The article quickly touches on Lowe’s “healthy” six-figure investment in the company. I’m sure the extra capital is welcome. But I can’t help wonder if these quick price increases on their product is a quicker bid to make their money back. They raised these prices because “reasons.” But every single thing about this just feels like a cash grab from the customers.

The article talks about different tiered packages letting customers having plans as low as $20 all the way up to $100 for unlimited films that include different formats including 2D, 3D, and Imax. Some have a $100 plan now and I’m not sure if this does include all the unlimited films for all the formats. But I have yet to see a $20 plan appear.  Thus far all I see is a company struggling to catch on with moviegoers. While it struggles to find more popularity they are turning around and depending on finding their profit from its customer base where they increase the price tag by 50%.

I had Moviepass for 3 months. I generally enjoyed it (despite the app problems) and liked going to the movies – especially when I got to see smaller films I’ve never heard of like Joshy or Equity. The theater enjoyed having me there as I bought a popcorn and a soda for $16 bucks. And Moviepass formerly enjoyed having my monthly payment.

But I’m not going to continue with Moviepass. I’ve already called and cancelled the service. It just makes me so irritated that these price increases seem to happen – not just to me – but to their own customers. Some customers have already had their rate jump up three times in a 18 month period. It’s crazy. As Moviepass tries to find their footing they end up alienating those who actually love their product. People like me.

HERE’S THE KICKER – I spoke out on Facebook and Twitter about this.  Moviepass’ Customer Service will answer me with a positive attitude and corporate speak.  They had a couple reasons for the price increase which I’ll also go over.  The first tweet back to me stated, “Change in price allowed us to remove the 24 hour clock and we hope to add other features soon.”

The 24 Hour Clock was a feature that meant if you saw a movie in theaters you had to wait 24 hours to see your next one.  This clock was long gone before I joined.  So I’m not sure how a price increase gets rid of something THAT WAS ALREADY GONE.

When I asked what “other features” they planned on adding the Twitter answered me back, “We’re hoping to expand e-ticketing and add premium formats to more plans.”  Here’s the kicker – there is already a $99 plan in place for moviegoers to see films in premium formats.  So is what Moviepass is saying that the average person with the average plan is now also playing for customers to see premium format films – even though THEIR PLAN doesn’t allow them to see it?  I’m not sure what expanding e-ticketing will take – and I’m not sure how that justifies a 50% price increase.

The Twitter also brought up the fact again about “increasing ticket prices” and THAT is the reason for this 50% price jump.  Brent Lang over at Variety did an article titled “Movie Ticket Prices Hit Record High” that was posted July 18, 2016.  It doesn’t go too indepth in article about prices but it does mostly talk about the premium formats causing the price shift.  Would you like to know how much the average ticket has gone up in price since last year?  1.7%.

1.7%.

It’s about justification.  Seeing tickets raised 1.7% could mean higher prices for Moviepass.  I get that.  But a 50% price increase isn’t justified when you are saying you are raising your fees for “increasing ticket prices” when those tickets have only gone up 1.7%.

Amazon Prime raised their prices by $20 a couple years ago.  They gave A LOT of advance notice that this was coming.  They also were quick to point out the MANY, MANY features you were receiving with Prime.  They’d send e-mails letting you know that you weren’t using all these features and they were available.  Amazon Instant Video is amazing in itself – it has a huge level of selection that rivals Netflix and they have some great original content like Alpha House, The Man in the High Castle, and Transparent.  They continue to use the money to produce even more original content.  A new Tick series and a series featuring Jean Claude Van Damme?  Sold!  Add in more great features like Amazon music and two day shipping Amazon Prime is a great value.  There are days when I spend over $35 and Amazon will deliver the goods the same day.  SAME DAY.  Talk about excellent service.  You see – Amazon had a plan.  They raised the prices, they gave ample notice, and then they tried to win over their customer base by talking about the many features that would benefit them in keeping the product.

Moviepass doesn’t do this.  They raised the price and said, “Oh!  But we are planning new features!”

I almost feel like I’m blue in the face.  The fact of the matter is no one at Moviepass cares.  They gave three weeks notice on a 50% price increase after three months and don’t care if I’m leaving.  They don’t care about everyone is leaving.  They want new business but they raised the prices for those wanting to join but offer nothing but the same service they did before.  They gouge their existing customer base and don’t give it a second thought?  And me – I guess it was fun while it lasted.  Of course I’ll still see movies because I love going to the theaters.  But I won’t support a product that did this.  I just won’t.