AMC and MoviePass have been at each other’s throats since last August when the latter rebooted its brand with a $9.95/a month unlimited ticket service. And today MoviePass had something to say about AMC’s new $19.95/a month movie ticket program, Stubs A-List, which gives its members three tickets a week to any film, in any format Imax, 3D, or Dolby at any time.
“Heard AMC Theaters jumped on board the movie subscription train. Twice the price for 1/4 the theater network and 60% fewer movies. Thanks for making us look good AMC,” MoviePass snarked in an initial tweet.
This was followed up by “AMC has repeatedly disparaged our model as a way to discourage our growth because all along they wanted to launch their own, more expensive plan. We want to make movies more accessible, they want more profit,” said MoviePass in a second tweet as their parent company Helios & Matheson’s stock nosedives at $0.32/share with news of financial re-structuring.
Last summer AMC looked into legally blocking MoviePass at their theaters, but couldn’t get around the Mastercard debit card loophole of it all. Meanwhile earlier this year, in an attempted shot across the bow, MoviePass refused to service some of AMC’s bigger metropolitan venues, a move which many in distribution say ticked off MoviePass’ own consumers, not necessarily the big chain. MoviePass later turned those big city theaters back on in its mobile app.
The notion that leading exhibitor AMC, which counts 2,2K screens stateside, would introduce a monthly subscription program was inevitable having shopped one to studios last fall (which they largely dismissed). Exhibitors and studios have a problem with allowing a third-party like MoviePass to take a cut in a long-lived two-party owned box office stream.
“There was never enough juice in the orange,” says one distribution insider, “if you look at exhibitors’ profit margins, they’re not so big. How are the studios going to make money and exhibition partners going to make money if they let MoviePass in? There’s not enough to go around in that box office model.”
“Our program will be profitable while others struggle to be profitable,” said AMC CEO Adam Aron today on an analyst phoner referring to MoviePass’ struggle with its current $9.95/a month one-movie-ticket-a day plan which has been severely questioned by financial analysts about its longevity.
MoviePass has sold itself on providing data to studios and exhibition about its 3M subscribers who head to the movies. “We all saw what happened with Facebook!,” snarked another distrib chief today. Meanwhile, AMC, too will be able to provide insights to its exhibition partners and studios about the 15M households who are members of AMC Stubs. Aron said today that the chain will spend $5M toward digital marketing in an effort to upgrade its current members to A-List and attract new subscribers.
In response to MoviePass’ ding at AMC’s Stubs A-List program, one Twitter handle replied, “How about following AMC example and let us have repeat viewings” while another tweeted “And also allow us to watch movies in premium formats like 3D, Dolby, and IMAX (even if we have to pay more.”
In addition today, monthly movie ticket upstart here in the states Sinemia, who MoviePass is suing, also had its two cents about the world’s largest exhibitor’s plans for a new membership program, calling AMC’s reach “a niche segment of super movigoers.” What are monthly movie ticket members other than frequent customers? Sinemia offers various tiers: for $14.99/a month a members gets three free tickets (with format upgrades) to AMC’s three free a week, while for $9.99/a month consumers get two tickets monthly with format upgrades.