Cinemark’s MovieClub subscription plan reached 560,000 active members by the end of 2018, up 26% from the end of the third quarter, the company revealed during its fourth-quarter earnings report.
The major exhibition circuit posted record revenue and several encouraging top-line numbers for the quarter ending December 31. Earnings per share of 18 cents fell short of Wall Street estimates due to softness in Latin America and comparisons with a tax-gain-fueled 2017 period.
MovieClub, which launched in late 2017, offers an answer of sorts to MoviePass (a once-promising subscription ticketing pioneer that was recently de-listed by the Nasdaq), but under the more reliable auspices of an established theater owner. Last December, Cinemark said it passed 500,000 members, weeks after rival AMC said it hit the same plateau with its Stubs A-List subscription service. AMC will shed light on A-List’s progress next week when it releases its quarterly financials.
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Speaking to analysts during a conference call about fourth-quarter earnings, CEO Mark Zoradi said 13 million admissions have been recorded in the history of MovieClub, and in the fourth quarter the program accounted for 10% of box office, up from 8% in the third quarter.
Movie Club’s pricing strategy differs from that of some rival plans. For $9 per month, the Movie Club members get one ticket to any 2D showtime, plus discounts on extra tickets and concessions and free online reservations. Unused tickets can be rolled over month to month and never expire for active members.
“Its transactional framework is a sustainable model for the long term,” Zoradi told analysts.
Data from the first year of the subscription effort show “no drag on concession sales,” Zoradi said. “In fact, the opposite is true.” The program skews slightly female, but is diverse in terms of age groups and geography.
Stimulating moviegoing via subscription plans is one way traditional exhibitors are surviving the streaming era, Zoradi said. “We don’t think that movie theaters and streaming can’t mutually succeed together in significant ways,” he said.
Asked about Amazon’s movie outlook given the tech giant’s recent vow to boost output to 30 releases a year and also put out some day-and-date titles, Zoradi said the company has been “a great partner” and would not influence others’ stance on theatrical windows.
Even with Netflix’s onslaught of more than five dozen films in the fourth quarter, many of them either day-and-date or with truncated theatrical windows, Cinemark posted record revenue, Zoradi noted. Citing third-party research, he added, “People who go to the movies stream more, and people who stream go to the movies more,” he said.
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