I love my MoviePass. I subscribed last September and I’ve been going to the theater like crazy ever since.
I’ve seen “Lady Bird”, “Darkest Hour”, “Dunkirk”, “Mother”, “Star Wars” (part whatever it is now), “American Assassins”, “Wind River”, “Granite Mountain”, “Leap”, “American Made”, “Thor”, “Jumanji”, “The Greatest Showman”, “Game Night”, and I’m sure there are several others I can’t recall. That’s more that I’ve seen in theaters in the last 6 years.
I go to the movies more now because of MoviePass. For anyone who’s unfamiliar with MoviePass, you pay a subscription fee of $9.99/month which entitles you to see movies at the theater for now charge. Get this: you can see one movie a day. Crazy right? I asked last September about the business model and whether the company could stay afloat after dropping the price from $50 to $10 a month.
Most users assume for this kind of deal there’s got to be a catch and like many apps that we can use for free, MoviePass collects personal information and shares it with third-party companies. What we did not know was what information was being collected. Until now.
Last week MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe told a crowd that MoviePass “collects an enormous amount of data” from users and can see how I get to the theater from my home, and “where they go afterwards.”
MoviePass uses the GPS data in our phones to know which theater we’re going to. The way it works is that you get within 100 yards of a theater, select the movie you want to see and check-in. When you go to the ticket window MoviePass has put just enough money on the debit card to pay for the movie.
So, now we find out that GPS information is being collected but why?
Apparently, MoviePass wants to know which route you take to get to the theater so it knows which restaurants you pass. Lowe said they hope to be able help create a ‘movie night’ experience by sharing the information about nearby restaurants. It’s hoping to make a revenue-sharing deal with those restaurants for a cut of the cost of dinner. A referral-fee I suppose.
That’s what the company is hoping to do with movie theaters. It claims about 6% of movie tickets are now purchased with a MoviePass card. I’m surprised it isn’t higher. Most people I speak to say they have a card and whenever I’ve asked at the ticket window, the guy behind the counter says “everyone” is using the card.
But doesn’t it creep you out that MoviePass is keeping track of where you go after the movie ends?
Nah. It’s too good of a deal. Besides, MoviePass doesn’t care that it’s “ME”, it just wants to know where their subscriber is going or eating. Could the information fall into the wrong hands of hackers?
There’s always that chance, but let me ask you: what information could a hacker find out about you from your movie-going-restaurant-eating habits that it doesn’t already know if they just check your public profile information on Facebook.
My guess is that MoviePass updates its Terms of Service and Privacy information. I also predict most loyal MoviePass users are just fine with being tracked as long as they can see all the movies that come out every month, for just $10.