movie theater

MoviePass CEO Reveals How They Actually Make Money

MoviePass

Last year, MoviePass CEO, Mitch Lowe had a target that he wanted to hit.  That target was 150,000 subscribers in 18 months.  If he reached that, he was going to give himself a $2 million bonus.  Which is kind of great, don’t you think?  But what’s funny about all of this is that he thought it would take that long.  At least a year, he thought, and the additional time was to act as a buffer, in case he couldn’t deliver.  But guess what?  He reached that goal in two days.  That’s right – two days, my friends.  And I mean, honestly, there’s no surprise with this one.

It’s not hard to see why MoviePass has moved beyond a million and a half subscribers though.  For $10 a month, the service lets customers see a movie (regular, not 3D) per day at 91% of the theaters in the country.  The monthly fee is slightly more than what the average ticket price is for just one movie of $8.93.  In fact, many theaters charge more than $10 for a ticket.  I have been a supporter of this service in terms of it sounding great, but I have also been skeptical of how this is working. MoviePass pays the theaters full price for all of those tickets, which means it loses money whenever users see at least two movies in the theater per month — a far cry from the 28 to 31 movies per month that someone could technically get for the same $10.

watching a movie

Lowe hopes (and also expects) that after an initial binge, people will only be watching one or two movies per month.  Much the same way that gym memberships tend to spike at the beginning of the year, and then attendance dies off as people stop going.  But let’s be honest, how many times a year do you go to the movies?  At $120 a year, maybe going 6 or 8 times isn’t worth it.  Maybe, maybe not.  But if you don’t have the pass, you’re going to have to pay full price and I wonder if that idea entices people to go.

Think about it.  If you even think you will go to one movie per month, then you need to buy this.  Having this pass gives you the ability to go more than once a month, and thereby save you some money.  I love going to the movies, but I just don’t go.  For one, I don’t have the time to go.  I try to make some time every couple of months, but it doesn’t always work out that way.  The other reason I don’t go is that I have a hard time sitting still for that long.  I need breaks.  Lots of them.  I need to get up and move around – even if the chairs are super comfy.

That said I’m probably not MoviePass’ target audience.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s a great deal. In fact, if I had more disposable time, I think I would get a pass, just so I could start using that time for something enjoyable – like going to the movies.