Yesterday, we brought you news about MoviePass – a new subscription service that would allow subscribers to see as many theatrical releases as they please for the price of $50 per month. The fledgling company, looking to become the theatrical equivalent of NetFlix and GameFly (notice how it even has the same stylish two word name all mashed together? Marketing genius!) is prepared to begin a closed beta test of the service this weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Unfortunately, it seems someone at MoviePass forgot to actually ask AMC – one of the country’s largest theater chains – if they’d like to be involved. The list of twenty-plus theaters partaking in the beta was included in Wired’s story – and oddly enough, it included quite a few AMC movie houses. No word from the MoviePass folks yet on how this happened, but AMC released a terse statement on the issue.
The gist of the missive is that AMC wasn’t consulted while the whole MoviePass system was being developed and that they’ll not be participating because they’re worried the service will conflict with their customer loyalty rewards program, Stubs. AMC doesn’t want anything interfering with their guest’s experience – which sounds really noble. The cynics amongst us suspect AMC is more concerned with customers opting out of Stubs (another “reward” program that requires a payment to join) for another service where the chain doesn’t get quite as great a cut of the profits (which, in Stubs’ case, would seem likely to be 100%).
The company closes with a statement about how “surprised” they were by this whole MoviePass deal.
“We were surprised to see the press release and subsequent press coverage of MoviePass earlier this week as it included several of our San Francisco locations. It was news to us to see that we were participants and we will be communicating to those theatres they are not to accept MoviePass."
So, if you were hoping to test out MoviePass over your long 4th of July weekend, your theater options just shrank significantly. That’s the bad news. The good news is that all of those AMC theaters were probably showing the same movies anyway, so you didn’t lose much. If you’re still game to try the service, I recommend swinging by the Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley. You’ll not only have the option of seeing new releases like Cars 2, but also cool stuff like Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins and documentaries like Page One: Inside the New York Times and Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop.
As for what this means for MoviePass, only time will tell. Luckily this happened on a beta test version of the service and not when it was ready to go live to the masses. That could have been disastrous.