What MoviePass subscribers think they’re getting from recent changes.
MoviePass and Sinemia keep changing the rules. One is nowhere near as good as it used to be while the other is getting better.
You remember MoviePass, the too-good-to-be-true subscription plan where you could see a movie a day for around $10 a month. Some got it even cheaper than that.
After what seemed to be a weekly change in terms, MoviePass now offers 3 movies a month, for $13. Not bad, until you find out it’s only good for a select few titles that change every day. Sometimes you can choose from only 3. Monday it was 8. Before I canceled my account last fall, there were days when nothing was available in my area. And when nothing was included in MoviePass’ lineup, I just didn’t go to the movies. I felt like I was buying two tickets for the price of one since I also paid the $9.99 subscription price.
On the other hand, Sinemia offers 3 movies per month for $8 and every 2D movie is available to see on any date at any time. Ranked only on price and availability, there’s no way MoviePass competes with Sinemia.
Granted this is a promotional price from Sinemia and there’s nothing to say they won’t go up on pricing at the drop of a hat. That’s what MoviePass did for years.
If you want access to all the movies anytime, including IMAX and 3D, you’ll obviously pay more. With MoviePass it’s the red-carpet plan at $22 a month. Sinemia has a movie a day plan, like the old MoviePass, for $20, again this is a promotional price and we don’t know how long it’ll last. If it weren’t for the whole $10 MoviePass of 2017, the $20 Sinemia unlimited plan just doesn’t seem fair to theaters it’s such a great deal (maybe too good to be true for long.)
In the time it took me to write this piece, Sinemia removed the unlimited plan option from its website.
Here’s why MoviePass was my preferred way to pay for tickets: it’s so easy to use. MoviePass sends you a debit card, you check in at the movie you want to see when you get to the theater (okay, that’s a bummer if you’d like to plan ahead), hand the MoviePass debit card and the ticket agent swipes it like they’d do if it was your credit card. I never felt the MoviePass system was inconvenient or too much of a hassle.
Sinemia is more difficult. While you can buy tickets ahead of time, you have to buy them using a Fandango or Atom app, which will load the tickets in an app for you to scan. When I tried this, I had to switch back and forth from the Sinemia app to the Atom app. I had to find the theater, the movie and even the time. It also means you’ll have to pay convenience fees. Those fees are usually around $3 for every ticket purchased with the app. With the $20 unlimited package, if I watch 10 movies each month, I’ll add another $30 in fees, bringing the total to $50 a month. Not that great of a deal now.
Sinemia recently announced its own ticket purchasing app to compete with Fandango and Atom. According to a Sinemia spokesperson today, their app will purchase the ticket with whatever convenience fee the theater charges for tickets purchased online.
Sinemia is also offering a physical card to users who’d like one. They’ll cost extra, $14.99 and will be delivered within 1-2 weeks of when it’s ordered.
The primary reason I did not keep my Sinemia plan is that you’re required to pay for one year up front. On the Sinemia website and app, only annual memberships are available.
I just can’t get past the financial troubles of MoviePass and the thought of losing hundreds of dollars if Sinemia suddenly begins losing money and forced to raise prices.
I spoke with a movie theater manager who told me for a good while they saw MoviePass cards all the time. A ticket agent said last summer told me 9 out of every 10 movie tickets were paid for with MoviePass cards.
If I were to subscribe to one MoviePass or Sinemia, I’d go with Sinemia’s unlimited plan. When I used a MoviePass card I went to the theater at least twice a week.
Since I canceled my subscription last September, I’ve been to exactly one movie.
I would hope theaters could find a way to make it work to their advantage. Since I didn’t buy a ticket I bought popcorn and a soft drink every single time I saw a movie. That’s where the margins are for theaters.
The theater manager told me they didn’t see additional sales at the snack bar when MoviePass was at its peak.