Update, 6:05PM: Similar to the late Andy Rooney, I received a lot of mail this morning from those questioning MoviePass’ claims that they delivered close to $128.7M of the domestic box office toward this year’s Oscar-nominated films.
The monthly movie ticket organization was forthcoming in their original press release with the B.O. percentages that they generated for a slew of Oscar nominees since November (you can read those in the previous update), however, all these titles amounted to $16.4M. A distribution boss rang us to ask “What other nominee this season is generating $112.4M?” Good question.
So we went back to MoviePass with our concerns and CEO Mitch Lowe expounded on the following clarification and correction:
“We bought $110 million worth of tickets since the $9.95 plan was launched in August 2017, and the halo effect generated another $146 million in ticket sales totaling $256 million in ticket purchases. The halo effect is a combination of MoviePass members bringing Non-MP members to the film and referring additional friends who went to the movies. Roughly 50% of the tickets purchased were for Oscar nominated films, which is how we arrived at the $128M figure,” said Lowe.
More specifically, per our phone conversation with Lowe, 44% of the $110M (or $48.5M) that MoviePass has spent since August came from Oscar-nominated films. This includes all nominees, not just those in the above-the-line categories, so Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Coco, Blade Runner 2049, Dunkirk, etc.
Now, 70% of those who were MoviePass subscribers brought a friend, that is a person who didn’t have MoviePass and literally paid out of their own pocket at the box office. The monthly ticket org is saying that those plus-ones spent another $146M at the box office. Of that box office figure, MoviePass says that $80.2M was spent on Oscar-nominated films and –yes– they’re laying claim to being the catalyst for that figure. So, $80.2M + $48.5M= $128.7M.
Far more than when the Screening Room rocked Hollywood with its PVOD experiment, MoviePass has created a lot of noise in the film industry in recent months, and they’ve created quite a division between those who embrace them or loathe them. The monthly movie ticket service is seeking a share of film tickets and concession revenue from exhibition operators, while selling studios on their movie marketing services and audience data. Some fear that MoviePass is bound to shake up the movie ticket model to the point where consumers will only attend if they’re paying a monthly movie ticket price. Others snipe that MoviePass cares more about subscriptions than selling tickets; and that their recent fight with AMC over big theater coverage is a sign that they’re scrambling. The big question is whether the company can reduce their deficit and buoy their subscriptions as they look to hit 3 million by this summer. The company’s longevity lies in a majority of its subscribers in the long run infrequently attending the movies.
To be continued.
HMNY, MoviePass’ parent company ended trading today at $7.92, -0.63%. In after hours trading at 7:16PM EST they were at $7.95.
Previous, 6:55AM: MoviePass reports this morning that the monthly movie ticket service has generated $128.7 million for select film nominees since November 2017.
Among the Oscar nominated films promoted by MoviePass are all of the Best Picture nominees, nominees for Best Animated Film, Best Foreign Film and other films featuring nominees for Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.
MoviePass’ percentage of domestic box office sales for Best Picture nominees include Sony Pictures Classics’ Call Me By Your Name at 8.79% ($1.1M), A24’s Lady Bird at 6.18% ($2.7M), Fox Searchlight’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri at 6.89% ($2.8M), The Shape of Water at 7.87% ($3.5M) and The Post at 5.57% ($3.7M). In addition to best picture nominees, MoviePass contributed 11.48% for I, Tonya ($2.5M), and 7.57% for The Square ($106K). [Reporter’s note: MoviePass provided the percentage figures in their release, and Deadline did the box office math].
Note that distributors, when they’re looking at their hourly ticket sales in ComScore’s box office system, cannot specifically see what MoviePass is accounting for at the box office. MoviePass has access to that B.O. intel. One distributor adding up the above math this morning to $16.4M, begs the question “What other nominee this season is generating $112.4M?”
“MoviePass is actively driving movie-goers to the theater at a critical moment in the year,” said Mitch Lowe, CEO of MoviePass. “At a time with ‘For Your Consideration’ billboards up all over Tinseltown, we are promoting these pictures to our MoviePass subscribers. Because of MoviePass, I believe more people are connected with these films now and MoviePass has created more exposure for these nominees and the Oscars.”
“We are just testing the waters to establish what is possible for MoviePass to contribute to the success of the film and movie theater industries,” said Ted Farnsworth, Chairman and CEO of Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc. (Nasdaq: HMNY), which acquired a majority stake in MoviePass in 2017. “Over the last three weeks, MoviePass contributed 4.6%, 5.6%, and respectively 5.7% last week to total nationwide box office. As we continue to see accelerated growth of the MoviePass subscribers and the continued shift in the Movie Theater landscape, we are very excited to watch consumers attach to our product and brand and use their MoviePass. I believe we can serve as a catalyst for success in the entire movie industry.”
Two weeks ago, MoviePass locked horns with the biggest exhibitor in the world, AMC, shedding some of their busiest U.S. locations from their app. MoviePass has been in talks recently with exhibitors to get a share of ticket sales and commissions. Some theater chains are open to this, and some like AMC are not. MoviePass claims that their subscribers aren’t devoted to particularly one theater; that they’ll drive by two locations to get to the theater that has the title they want to see.
MoviePass parent Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY) was +3% as of 9:57AM EST at $8.21.