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MoviePass borrows an emergency $5 million to keep its service alive

The company continues to add caveats to its all-you-can-watch model

Photo via YouTube
To spin a line from “The Godfather,” MoviePass’ mantra of “I’m going to make them an offer they can’t refuse” took a turn for the worse over the weekend.

First, the subscription-based movie ticketing service had to take out a $5 million emergency loan to pay fulfillment partners so customers could keep using the service.

It seems MoviePass’ parent company, Helios and Matheson Analytics, had failed to pay the companies that are in charge of customers’ payments, so the contractors simply stopped processing the payments which, in turn, left MoviePass customers without a way to buy tickets.

Ironically, the title of the new Tom Cruise movie -- ‘Mission: Impossible - Fallout’ -- was next on MoviePass’ list of faux pas as customers were prevented from seeing the new flick.

MoviePass danced around the heart of the matter when it tweeted out its “issues” on Thursday. First it was, “To our subscribers - we are aware an investigating an issue that is preventing users from checking-in to movies this evening. We ask for your patience as we look into this and recommend waiting for further updates before heading to the theater.”

Then it was, “We are still experiencing technical issues with our card-based check-in process and we are diligently working to resolve the issue.”

That was later followed up with, “We've determined this issue is not with our card processor partners and will be continuing to work on a fix throughout this evening and night. If you have not headed to the theater yet, we recommend waiting for a resolution or utilizing e-ticketing which is not impacted.”

So, what’s it going to be, MoviePass?

The company’s CEO Mitch Lowe did his best to rally MoviePass’ 3 million users, but his comments veered more towards the new demand-based pricing model and away from the $9.95 a month all-you-can-see model.

“As we continue to evolve the service, certain movies may not always be available in every theater on our platform,” Lowe said in a statement on Friday. “The first of those features, Peak Pricing, has rolled out nationally. Bring-a-Guest and Premium Features will begin rolling out soon.”

Lowe’s hue and cry about MoviePass trying to “fundamentally change an industry that hasn’t evolved much in years” is a worthy crusade, but are moviegoers willing to work through the subscription’s provisos in order to get a good deal?

“Don't get me wrong. Between the $5m loans and mission impossible and the surges costing as much as a ticket, moviepass is doomed,” wrote a subscriber on Reddit.

“But i'm gonna ride it till the end because surge pricing and card outages and stub photos don't affect partner theaters with e-ticketing. And it just so happens that my local e-ticketing theaters have the specific releases I am most interested in. And amc a-list is the better service but amc does not get the movies I like. I will be milking this service until the day it dies.”

For the movie buff -- particularly those patient enough to work within MoviePass’ rules -- $9.95 a month for all-you-can-watch can still be a pretty good deal -- especially when you compare that to the cost of a single ticket. The National Association of Theater Owners reported that the average ticket price for a movie was $9.16 in the first quarter of 2018 versus the same quarter a year ago at $8.84.

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