For our MoviePass review, let me give you some details first on what it is. MoviePass.com gives you “access to Unlimited Movies in Theaters Nationwide for a monthly fee.” A Netflix for movie theaters in a sense. And it’s now in beta, following the ol’ Gmail formula of needing an invite to join. Well, needless to say, with the amount of films that I see per month, I was intrigued. So when my chance came to try this service out for one month, I jumped on it!
Today is my first day with the service and I was planning on waiting until my one full month was completed to write my review. I don’t need to wait. I know enough after my first experiences with MoviePass to form my opinion.
Is it as awesome at it seems? Or a big gimmick? I’ll dive into that after the jump…
There are many restrictions to the plan that are nowhere in sight on the MoviePass website, which is bound to turn off many buyers who shell out the monthly fee after the fact. I suggest reading their terms of service at the bottom of the site – as there are many rules to this that will work fine for some and be huge dealbreakers for others, like myself.
The first of which is the fact that the certificate you print off their site is not a guaranteed admission ticket. “It is not until the User displays the Certificate to the theater representative that a seat will be reserved for the title,” says the fine print. So, in other words, if you live in a smaller area where movies don’t generally sell out, this is a non-issue. However, if you’re in places like New York City or LA, where opening night sell-outs are commonplace, this could render your whole new MoviePass plan useless. “The terms state that MoviePass will not be held responsible if the selected session is sold out. In such an event, Users will be able to utilize the ticket for the title and theater selected for up to 24 hours after the original showtime displayed on the certificate.” That’s great and all, but what happens when Jimmy had his nice printed-out passes for Titanic 3D for his hot Friday night date, only to arrive at the theater to see a flashing ‘sold out’ sign on the showtimes display? Not a very good first date for Jimmy.
The second bomb that was dropped on me is that you can only watch ONE Movie a Day. The duration of “a day” is from 2am of current day to 2am of next day. For me, this is the first big, giant, no-way dealbreaker. The whole point in joining an “unlimited movies” plan is for me to see unlimited movies, and most of the time that would include doing double-features at the local multiplex. I mean take next Friday — Underworld, Red Tails and Haywire all open… what’d be more fun than using your MoviePass to knock off all three on a Saturday afternoon?! Oh well. Sorry, buddy. Looks like to see all three of those you’ll be trekking out on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It should also go without saying that you may only watch each film once, so there could be no days like mine in 1993 when I saw Jurassic Park five times in a row at the Ziegfeld in Manhattan. (…What a goddamn magical day that was.)
MoviePass.com’s terms also mention that “MoviePass is only valid for one movie at any one time and cannot be used to obtain a ticket for another movie before the film presentation for which it has been used comes to an end.” I don’t see how this matters as you’re unable to purchase a second film for that day anyway.
Worse yet, there are no advance tickets available on MoviePass. The site will only allow you to choose movies to see that day only. So forget about using your plan to buy tickets for The Dark Knight Rises. Or any big summer film on opening day for that matter.
Okay, next red flag… To me, seeing those first midnight shows are where the magic of going out to movies is. Sitting there with fellow fans, some even in costume, all sharing the communal experience of discovering the latest event together – it’s my reason for living. With MoviePass, no midnights are available. They show up on the site’s timetables but are not clickable, as was the case with Contraband at the Arclight Hollywood this past Thursday night. So again, for me, this is another major dealbreaker as I see the majority of my films at their first midnight show.
Another thing to note is each pass printed from the site has a value. The pass I just printed out was good to redeem for a ticket up to $15, so if you’re on your way out to see Arthur Christmas in 3D at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood for example, you’d have to shell out the extra 4.50 difference for your ticket on the spot. My pass was for Beauty and The Beast 3D, a $15 value and then I had to pay an additional $2.25 at the box office when I traded my pass for the actual ticket. Again, not the worst problem, still a good deal perhaps, but potentially annoying to some, especially those who can’t get enough of their 3D, and even more importantly (and more expensively), IMAX.
The last thing to note is that the passes have your name on it so they are no transferable, which shouldn’t be a big problem unless you were planing on opening up your own private box office in a tent in back of the theater.
And remember, I use the word ‘passes’ firmly. It’s important to keep in mind that this is MoviePass, not Movie Ticket – and your pass does not guarantee you’ll be getting into the movie and show you intend. Lame-o.
The Verdict: So, taking all this into account – MoviePass kinda sucks if you’re me.
If you’re a movie geek who lives for seeing films opening weekend, and sometimes more than one at that, you’re shit outta luck with this. Like I am right now. HOWEVER! If you are a casual moviegoer, who can wait to see a film after the crowds die down, are in no rush, and can live with the potential of sold out shows or horrible seat selection left when you arrive at the theater to redeem your pass for an actual for real ticket, then MoviePass might be for you. Although those types of laid-back, casual film-goers don’t tend to see over four films per month in my experience. Which is what would be justified to spring for the $50 per month this costs on the month-to-month plan. And with that in mind, I really don’t know WHO this is for and how the service with thrive.
Believe me, I wanted to love this and was super-excited to try it out. If they were to allow multiple films per day I would even still consider it in those film-heavy summer months. But with those rules taken into account, this service is getting one big PASS from me.