Report: MoviePass to Roll Out Surge Pricing for Popular Films | Tech News
The wild ride continues for MoviePass subscribers, who may soon be forced to pay surge pricing if they want to see a popular movie during opening weekend.
According to Business Insider, the movie subscription app plans to launch “high-demand” surge pricing starting in July to movies the app deems popular. So if you’re a MoviePass subscriber who plans to see Ant-Man and the Wasp or Mission Impossible: Fallout during opening weekend next month, you may be forced to pay an additional $2 or more.
MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe told BI that “At certain times for certain films—on opening weekend—there could be an additional charge for films.”
This comes on the heels of yesterday’s news that theater chain AMC is rolling out a $20-per-month subscription program called Stubs A-List to compete directly with MoviePass. AMC’s service only lets you see up to three movies per week as opposed to one per day with MoviePass, but comes with features like seeing multiple movies per day and advance ticketing.
Lowe said surge pricing is a way for theaters to spread out viewings of popular movies to less crowded showings and subsequent weekends. Bottom line: the app continues to make it a worse bargain for consumers to see popular movies when they come out. You can’t buy tickets in advance, and now you may have to pay more.
MoviePass sandwiched the surge pricing news into a few other new features to soften the blow, including options to bring a friend or to see premium movies in IMAX or Real 3D for an additional fee. MoviePass currently only offers subscribers standard 2D movie options, but Lowe told BI the additional features will be available in the app by the end of August for an additional $2-$6.
Today’s report marks the latest twist and turn on a roller coaster of new features and cost-saving measures in recent months as MoviePass parent company Helios & Matheson Analytics hemhorrages funds from the app’s fundamentally unprofitable business model of subsidizing ticket prices en masse.
The firm lost a whopping $150.8 million in 2017 after acquiring MoviePass. The app has experimented with a bevy of different plan and payment options along with eliminating repeat viewings and implementing a new ticket verification policy to reduce fraud and stem its losses as it maintains a quest for profitability.
Shortly following today’s surge pricing news, Helios & Matheson announced a $164 million bond sale to fund the app’s expenses, which totaled totaled $21.7 million per month according to a recent filing. The firm reached an agreement with institutional investors to issue $164 million in convertible notes as well as 20,500 shares of preferred stock to be used for “general corporate purposes,” according to a statement made to the SEC.
MoviePass responded to yesterday’s AMC news with a tweet decrying that “we want to make movies more accessible, [AMC wants] more profit.” Introducing surge pricing to discourage MoviePass users from seeing popular movies when they first come out is not exactly in the sprit of accessibility.
PCMag has reached out to MoviePass for comment on the Business Insider report and will update this post as the story develops.