In Memoriam of Moviepass

It was a pleasant summer Thursday afternoon in Austin, Texas. Thursdays to me meant one thing: movie premieres. Thursday night is usually the first night movies are available; the Friday release date used to have a Thursday night midnight premiere, but it’s now expanded to where we get to go see it a day before it’s advertised at around 6:00 p.m., if we really want.

This was a time where I had no friends, outside of my lovely girlfriend, in a brand new city, I had moved to for college, so I would go to these Thursday night premieres on a weekly basis to get out of the house, no matter how interested I was. This night was Teen Titans, Go! To the Movies. I walked confidently to the cashier and pulled out my iPhone, ready to unveil my prepaid Moviepass membership, but alas, when I tried to use it, I was hit with our generation’s worst form of first-world problems on my screen: “Can’t connect to server.” I paced the strip mall outside trying to get my prepaid ticket for about five minutes before I finally just went to the cashier to ask if this has been happening frequently today. The guy calmly said, “Oh you’ve got Moviepass? I would give their name a Twitter search, bro” as he lightly chuckled.

An existential crisis was upon me. What happened to Moviepass? I went and sat in my car only to find a news article that they had borrowed $5 million just to avoid shutting down entirely and were inevitably going to file for bankruptcy unless major business changes were made. My sweet prince’s time in my life had appeared to have run its course. It was, in fact, too good to be true.

When I was using Moviepass, it was around $10 per month to see a movie once a day, free of charge. You could literally go see one nightly movie per month and it would have paid itself off, since most movie tickets are priced around $10 per ticket already. This was not a sustainable business model. They had to make significant changes in order to stay afloat after that disaster the night I tried to go see Teen Titans Go! They raised rates. They put a cap on how many movies you could see monthly and only gave you select movies and showtimes. This was my favorite: they even tried selling Moviepass merchandise on their website with movie puns, like a plain, black hat with their wordmark labeled “Hat Damon.” It was the most adorable, desperate business cry for help I had ever seen. And now here we are, and they’re being investigated for violating credit card privacy information and their company is officially dying.

However, Moviepass died so that movie theaters could live. Before my membership, I was only moderately interested in movies. I would merely go to the movies I really wanted to see because of the cost and the act of going to a theater rather than just waiting it out to be put on a streaming service. But once I got that membership, I couldn’t get enough of the movie-going experience. I went as often as I could. I watched everything that came out. I wrote movie reviews. I had grown to love the art of film in general and watched as many movies as I could at home. I really have Moviepass to thank for leading to my eventual infatuation with movies, because I probably would have only stuck to seeing the blockbusters rather than some of the masterful independent films or things I wouldn’t have wanted to see without this affordable outlet. The movie theater experience was becoming a bit restless at this time, too, with the rise of streaming. People just didn’t have the motivation to get out of their house and go sit in a theater that requires you to wear pants in public anymore. I hope that the opportunity and affordability of Moviepass didn’t just help me out, because I, for one, love the movie theatre experience after getting to see so many. It’s almost spiritual.

That night in the parking lot of the AMC movie theater, reading the news of the crippled Moviepass I simply couldn’t give it up. I became so in love with that membership and going to the movies on a weekly basis that I knew I needed an alternative. So on the spot, I terminated my membership and became an AMC Stubs A-List member, which allows you three movies a week along with benefits on concessions at AMC theaters for $20 per month. Sure, the rate was going up and I wouldn’t be able to see a movie EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, but I knew that I would use it. I’m sure the A-List membership wasn’t even remotely on the radar until Moviepass became such a phenomenon.

This isn’t a plug for membership services; I merely wanted to acknowledge that Moviepass died so that the movies themselves could live. May it forever rest in peace, wearing a Hat Damon black hat in its casket.

JAKE RUSSELL

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