EXCLUSIVE: Sources confirm to us that Regal’s new unlimited movie ticket subscription service is prepping to launch at the end of July in the U.S. Details are still being ironed out between the major studios and Regal’s parent company, Cineworld, based in London.
Here’s what we know: There will be three tiers of pricing, which work out to $18, $21 and $24 per month, each granting access to unlimited tickets (really). While the monthly price of AMC Stubs A-List movie ticket subscription program varies by state, we hear that Regal’s is based on theater location. Those purchasing a top-priced tier will have access to any Regal Cinema (i.e., from Valencia, CA to 42nd Street in NYC), while the lowest tier gets access to about half of the chain’s national footprint. If someone purchased a subscription at a low tier and ventures to an out-of-network Regal in a higher tier (like a major city), there’s apt to be a surcharge (not final, but around $2-$3) on a gratis ticket.
There are also 10% cash reductions on concessions for each tier, which are immediate rather than receiving a voucher for the next visit. Also, there’s buzz that Regal Unlimited subscribers will have to purchase an entire year in advance for the unlimited ticket program, hence the tier prices respectively would be $288, $252 and $216.
At this point in time, it’s not clear whether premium venues (Imax, Dolby 3D, Premium Large Format screens, Dbox) will be included in the monthly subscription like it is with AMC’s. Studio executives have mentioned to us in passing that a greater degree of revenue exists in upcharging a subscriber on premium tickets. Details are still being worked out despite what many might be reading in online chat rooms.
Regal’s new program is specifically aimed at passionate moviegoers who go to the movies well in excess of two times a month. While we understand Cineworld isn’t making a specific play to dynamite millennials into the multiplex, the popularity of these one-price all-you-can-eat subscription programs, ala Netflix, is that they’re in sync with the under 35 demo’s spending habits. Not to mention in a Deadline/NRG study back in April, close to half of those polled felt the current monthly price of streaming was just right compared to the 27% who felt the current price of a movie ticket was fair. Thirty-three percent said the price of streaming was a bargain compared to 15% who felt the price of a movie ticket was still a bargain.
The Regal Unlimited system was based off CineWorld’s Unlimited in the UK, which has been running for well over a decade. The chain pioneered the concept of a movie-ticket subscription program well before MoviePass could utter the words. Just like ticket prices vary around the UK, so they do in the U.S., where it ranges from $9-$18. Hence, it’s not in Cineworld’s financial interest to offer an unlimited cost that would be the same for every customer, everywhere. As we saw with MoviePass, that’s just a recipe for disaster.
Regal already has a frequent moviegoer program, “The Regal Crown Club,” that is free. Members earn 100 points for every dollar they spend on tickets or concessions. Among the main perks: spend $180 and you get a free movie ticket (upgrades like Imax are extra). Those who spend $60 get a free small popcorn, while $70 gets you a free soft drink. Members can also choose to spend points on movie-related merchandise.
In regards to launching an unlimited movie ticket program stateside, Cineworld took its time so as to get the details right in the wake of MoviePass’ freefall with its $9.95-per-month program last year. Prior to MoviePass going off a cliff last July, AMC’s Stubs A-List program launched a year ago, which now counts north of 860,000 subscribers. Their monthly price varies by state, ranging from $19.95 a month to $23.95 a month plus tax. Members also enjoy a number of benefits including free premium upgrades (i.e., Imax, Premium Large Format tickets, 3D), RSVPing tickets ahead with no ticket fees, concession upgrades and refills.