MoviePass is closing out a tumultuous 2018 with one more revamp of its subscription pricing and the promotion of its head of business development to day-to-day oversight of the service.
The three new pricing plans, which take effect January 1, will still limit moviegoers to three films a month. That big shift from the initial one-movie-per-day allowance kicked in abruptly last summer after a chaotic period that saw a cash crunch and top box-office draws like Mission: Impossible-Fallout suddenly being yanked. Basic plans will now range from $10 to $15 a month depending on where a subscriber lives, and will keep certain new releases off limits; the $15 to $20 middle tier removes those restrictions. Only by stepping up to the top tier at $20 to $25 will subscribers get 3D or Imax privileges, and even then only one such deluxe screening per month.
The Helios and Matheson division faces many obstacles, including a probe by the New York Attorney General’s Office into whether it misled investors, lawsuits by angry shareholders and the potential Nasdaq de-listing of Helios, whose stock remains below two cents a share. While it pioneered the subscription moviegoing concept in the U.S., MoviePass has since had its model replicated by major exhibitors such as AMC and Cinemark. The circuits are gaining significant traction and can monetize subscriptions via concession sales or other means within their control, as opposed to collecting and selling customer data to studios or other stakeholders.
In a press release, parent company Helios and Matheson also said Khalid Itum, for the past year-plus the LA-based VP of Business Development for MoviePass, will lead day-to-day operations as Executive VP. He will continue to report to CEO Mitch Lowe, a former executive at Redbox and Netflix, who will turn his focus to overall strategy.
Lowe called Itum “a unique talent with an amazing vision” who “deepens our relationships within the industry ecosystem.”
Itum’s quote in the press release is best appreciated in its full, unabridged version:
“I’m eager to continue building MoviePass and am proud of how far we’ve come. The road hasn’t been easy — and the hyper growth has been challenging. However, we’ve taken a hard look over the past few weeks and months at what needs to happen in order to not just preserve what we’ve built, but to use it as a foundation upon which to build. Because of this, I know we’ll emerge a better partner to the theaters (big and small), major studios and independent distributors with whom we have the privilege of working to collectively best serve the interests of the American consumer,” he said.
“You may notice we’ve been out of the news for some time, and that’s been by design. At MoviePass, we’ve recently prioritized building toward a vision that aligns our success with greater consumption of entertainment. You’ll soon be able to judge for yourselves, and I believe that the best marketing we can do, today and always, is to enhance our product and treat our subscriber as a member of something special: because that’s what MoviePass is to a great number of Americans already. It’s on us to regain their trust. I believe the future is bright for our company, and I couldn’t do it without my team, which has been giving its 200% dedication and effort to transform the offering and platform into its full potential. I look forward to announcing some powerful additions to our management team to join with us in charging forward.”
The New York Times first reported the new subscription options.