MoviePass is a bad deal.

Created by Conmused on Oct. 11, 2012, 8:24 p.m.
  • So I was accepted into the movie pass program. At first I was excited, then I read the details.

    Cost: $29.9 per month / annual plan*
    *non-transferable, annual plan. early termination fees may apply
    **some restrictions may apply

    So $30 a month, annual contract. Sounds a little steep, but might work out for a movie-nut. But the real cost is in the cancellation fees.

    To cancel, you first pay a $20 termination fee, which seems kind of typical for a lot of services. I think my gym fee might be higher. But if the dollar amount spent using movie pass exceeds the amount you've paid? You gotta make up the difference. Not the difference for the month of cancellation - for your entire service period. This counter never resets, and your account renews for the next year automatically unless specified. (Bonus: Nowhere in the ToS do they make it clear whether deciding not to renew counts as cancellation.)

    But let's say you don't care. You just love movies SO DAMN MUCH. You already go out to the theater three or four times a week. Now you can go every day of the week! Maybe twice a day on weekends. And you'll do it forever.

    For that kind of person, there's this fun little bit:

    27.10. MoviePass may terminate the subscription at any time for any reason or none whatsoever;
    If MoviePass terminates the agreement, MoviePass may keep any subscription payments that have been received. In addition, if the $ (dollar) amount of tickets redeemed during the length of subscription exceeds the total subscription fees paid thus far, the user will be responsible for the difference.

    If they lose too much money on your movie marathon during this venture, it's just like the situation above. They don't just cut you off. They make it so you've effectively bought every ticket. A lot of ToS have "we can cancel" statements like this, and for good reason. When the shit hits the fan, they can shut it all down, and you can't sue. But this is the first time I've seen a company cover their losses by forcing the consumer to pick up the bill.

    So in both situations, there's a chance you save zero dollars by using it.

    Let's ignore that "zero percent discount" for now. What does moviepass even offer that they need all this legal mumbo jumbo for?

    27.2. A valid MoviePass subscription entitles you to: (1) see one 2D film per calendar day through MoviePass; (2) see a 2D film title one time through MoviePass; and (3) a single seat, depending on availability, for a 2D film showing open to the general public. This excludes premium showings such as: 3D films, IMAX, 4D, XD and specialty theaters. MoviePass access is available every day of the week, subject to the theater being open, inventory, and usage.

    One movie per day, and one use of movie pass per movie. You can see Iron Man III next summer a total of one time using Movie Pass. Gee. What a fantastic offer.

    Sure, for big box office hits like Iron Man III, you'll probably be able to just moviepass another movie, and sneak into whatever showing you want. But if you want to go see some indie-darling, or art-house flick, they may only have the one screen.

    Don't buy into moviepass folks. It's terrrrrrrible. It is, at best, letting you pay $30 a month, for exactly $30 worth of movies.

    You can try to get a better deal, but the ToS says they'll get that money from you one way or another.

  • What the fuck? This deal seems completely messed up.

  • Geeze, is Comcast behind this service? LOL

  • How bad is it?

    Let's assume a few factors based on my local theater's ticket prices:

    • Standard tickets are $9.
    • 3D tickets are $13.
    • Matinee tickets are $6.75.
    • The average number of movies released by major studios with a release window of greater than 16 weeks (a.k.a., the movies anybody cares about seeing) is 60 (data taken from

    Let's say there's 2 movies every year you actually want to see in 3D. That may be generous, but hey, if you're going to the movies enough to consider buying this service, it doesn't seem unreasonable. That adds $26 to your total movie expenses with or without MoviePass and drops the number of movies available to 58. So, to see all 58 movies every year at the standard ticket price + 2 in 3D, you're paying (($9*58)+$26) = $548 a year without MoviePass vs. ($360+$26) = $386 with MoviePass, meaning MoviePass has saved you $162 a year. However, you're not going to be seeing every movie at full price. 60 movies a year means a new movie every 1.15 days, or one new movie a week + one every seven weeks (Wednesday releases, etc.) Since there's only one new movie per week to watch, you have plenty of flexibility to decide when you want to watch it, and that probably means when you're bored on the weekend, meaning you'll be paying matinee prices. Let's say you see half of the movies before 6PM and pay $6.75 per ticket. Your total cost now becomes (($6.75*29)+($9*29)+$26) = $482, meaning MoviePass saves you $94 a year. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! Surely an avid moviegoer such as yourself knows that most theaters offer bulk purchasing discounts for tickets. My local theater offers a block of 50 tickets at $6.50 a ticket, regardless of the time of day you see the movie. By using these tickets for 50 movies and seeing the other 8 at matinee prices, you're now paying (($6.50*50)+($6.75*8)+$26) = $405, meaning MoviePass has saved you $19. Any guesses where they got the $20 figure for their termination fee?

    Now MoviePass has basically broken even on their service before they even bust out the actuarial tables, even if you see EVERY SINGLE MOVIE THAT YOUR THEATER SHOWS. Of course, MoviePass, like gyms, make most of their money by betting that you WON'T show up. The reality is that there's no way you're going to go see all the variations of RomCom 2013: They Get Together At The End and The Smurfs 8. If you skip out on just three movies each year, your total comes to $384.75. Congratulations, MoviePass has just made free money off you. If you wait and see the 5 you don't see with your 50-ticket block at the second-run theater for 50 cents, you save $32.50 over MoviePass. Hell, see Transformers 12: The Musical and the others you didn't care about there, and you're still saving $31 and seeing every single movie that came out in your theater. Furthermore, according to MPAA statistics, "frequent" moviegoers (representing only 10% of the moviegoing population) only see an average of 29 movies a year. Even if you paid full price for each ticket and saw two 3D movies on top of that, you'd be paying (($9*29)+$26) = $287 a year; if we went with our earlier idea of seeing half of them at matinee prices, that's (($9*15)+($6.75*15)+$26) = $182.75, meaning MoviePass just made $203.25 off you for doing absolutely nothing except taking advantage of your bad math skills.

    tl;dr - MoviePass is a bad deal even if you see every single goddamn movie that comes out; if you don't, give me $360 a year and I'll buy your movie tickets for you because I love free money.

    e: I'm also so bad at math that I'm not allowed to add my own dice up in D&D, and I can still figure this out. Sorry MoviePass, you don't have a chance.

  • This may not apply to MoviePass, I think it's worth mentioned that here in the UK we had a similar scheme pop up a few years ago. You paid £X per month for 'unlimited' access to films at certain cinemas (with a bunch of caveats and restrictions).

    After a while, the participating cinemas moved the goalposts by not allowing the pass to be used during any major film's opening week. The scheme didn't last much longer after that.

    Best avoided IMO.

  • Conmused and lane nailed it. MoviePass is basically a scam against people who cannot reasonably estimate the true value of movies per year. Here I broke it down similarly to Conmused:

    What really irritates me is that the core business model is completely against its customers:

    MoviePass makes money when subscribers are spending more on subscription fees than it costs them to pay for the actual tickets. This means that MoviePass gains when subscribers lose, and subscribers gain when MoviePass loses. At its core, MoviePass has a clashing business model that succeeds when its customers are not satisfied, and fails when customers are satisfied!

  • I'm sorry, you guys are crazy. I signed up for Moviepass, and so did my wife. A little background - 31 years old - own a tech company (set my own time schedule) - one child, 4 years old.

    We have not completed a month yet and so far it's been incredible.

    We've seen this month:

    Alex Cross ($10)

    Here Comes The Boom ($10)

    Fun Size ($10)

    Wreck-It-Ralph ($10)

    Chasing Mavericks ($10)

    Argo ($10)

    Flight ($10)

    Skyfall ($10)

    Pitch Perfect ($10)

    The Sessions ($10)

    Cloud Atlas ($10)

    Lincoln ($10)

    Total: $120 in movies for only $30. If you double that (for my Wife's account) it's $240 for $60. Don't care how you look at it, it's a good deal. What gets even better is that you get to use the loyalty card (AMC Stubs, for example). The way Moviepass is structured, it's a Discovercard, it allows you to use the loyalty card prior to paying. We've gotten free items and cash to use for food for doing nothing but watching the movies.

    Here is where Moviepass was a class act. The movie Pitch Perfect was at a small theater. Went through the process - selected the time on the app, checked in at the theater, and went to buy the tickets. Problem - they don't take discover. No big deal. I paid with my own card, emailed Moviespass with a copy of the stub and they refunded my account $20 ($10 each account) and removed the theater from the list. I have 11 theaters near me that participate and they don't even know it.

    All companies have stupid TOS if you actually read them. Unless you try to abuse the system, I don't see why they would cancel you. We still have one week left this cycle and plan on seeing Iron Fist, Rise of the Guardians, Life of Pi, Red Dawn, Hitchcock, & Central Park 5 - one a day.


  • @Conmused:  I am at month 7 of movie pass. I kept a log of my watching, including movie costs based on theatre, and calculated some stats like price per movie. Also when I signed up, my rate was $34.99 per month but I found a coupon online when signing up and had the first month for $20. I researched the cancellation policy before committing and the difference of what is saved is only applicable for the first month. Canceling at month 2-3 is flat $75, 4-6 month $60, 7-9 months $40, 10-12 months $20, and there is no commitment to renew at 12 months. I was watching a boatload of movies the first few months, but sort of slowed down since then. I only watched 2 in September and I just got charged for October. With that in mind I have watch 30 movies so far and I am up about 65$ Essentially the math for me is I have to watch 4 a month to really be a deal. If I were to cancel this month, I'll have probably only saved $25 or so, but I keep watching movies. One plus side is, since it's a regular form of payment you can rack points with regal, cobb, and amc. I've had 2 free movies with cobb and 1 on regal. I've also got a few popcorn a and sodas but I could care less about that. The one thing I didn't anticipate was a month or so into it my friends discovered gofobo, which lets you sign up for free prescreenings of movies. Having known this would happen I probably wouldn't have singed up. On top of the 30 moviepass movies I've seen, I've seen 8 free pre screenings and paid for 3d twice. Overall I think moviepass is cool, but you have to be dedicated and Love movies to be worth it. Frankly at month 7, I'm not at motivated to take advantage as I was a few months ago.
  • Hey Ladies and Gents!

    I just had a chat and then email exchange with the company (pasted below)-- the starting post of this thread is simply incorrect.

    You pay or are refunded the difference between the cost of the movies you see and the $35 monthly membership fee ONLY IF you cancel within the first month (and THEY pay YOU if you saw LESS than $35 worth of movies).

    Per their website,the cancellation fees are then as follows (this is all under section 27.11):

    "After the first month, the subscriber will be liable for cancellation fees based on the number of months their account has been active:

    (i) If account is cancelled within months 2 or 3, cancellation fees are $75

    (ii) If account is cancelled within months 4, 5 or 6, cancellation fees are $60

    (iii) If account is cancelled within months 7, 8 or 9, cancellation fees are $40

    (iv) If account is cancelled within months 10 or 11, cancellation fees are $20

    At the end of the year the user can choose to not renew their account without any cancellation fees. If the user decides to continue their service, they would continue to be billed monthly until the user decides to cancel. At that point, the user would not be responsible for any cancellation fees."

    This is the email thread with the guy at the company, Adrian, very nice and helpful:

    From me, "Joe," to the company on Aug 13 07:00 PM:


    I was thrilled about your service and just this minute signed up for it,

    and literally after pressing send I googled to find out how I could buy it

    as a gift and saw this article:

    It states that not only does MoviePass charge a $20 cancellation fee (OK,

    no problem),

    but that upon cancellation MoviePass charges the member for all movie

    ticket costs incurred above and beyond the $35/mo. membership fee. In other

    words, if I ever cancel, I will not have saved any money whatsoever (and

    owe at least $20 in the best case scenario).

    Is this true?

    Many thanks,


    new but possibly cancelling member

    Adrian, Aug 13 07:31 PM:

    Hi Joe,

    We spoke in chat, but I wanted to confirm everything we went over via email.

    Fortunately, the article that you came across is incorrect. When you cancel your Moviepass account (if within the initial year membership) you will only be charged the early termination fee, not the cost of tickets purchased with your Moviepass card. The early termination fee varies based on how long you have been a member. If you cancel during months 1-3 it's $75; 4-6 is $60; 7-9 is $40; and 10-11 is $20. After the first year, you can cancel with no cancellation fee. Once your first year completes, your account will continue on on a month to month basis with no penalty for cancelling.

    Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.



    Your MoviePass Concierge.

  • I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest that the brand new user who necro'd a 10 month old thread defending a company miiiiight have only signed up on behalf of said company.

  • Nah no way a company would ever do that... /sarcasm