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Will MoviePass’ return help struggling theaters?

MoviePass is coming back. Can its OG founder make it work this time around?

Image: Getty

MoviePass is back with original founder Stacy Spikes at the helm.

A waitlist opens Thursday for a beta launch on Labor Day, and it’s already partnered with a quarter of US theaters, per Business Insider.

Spikes founded MoviePass in 2011…

… but was ousted in 2018 by Helios and Matheson Analytics, which bought, then annihilated the business via bad (and occasionally unethical) moves, like the highly unsustainable decision to offer a movie a day for a mere ~$10/mo.

However, MoviePass was credited with a bump in theater attendance in 2017; one analytics firm found it increased concession sales by 81% YoY at AMC and 101% YoY at Cinemark.

And theaters need help

Cineworld is considering bankruptcy to reduce its debt burden, blaming a lack of films despite blockbuster draws like Top Gun: Maverick.

  • Compared to 2019, new releases are down 38% while Hollywood recovers from the pandemic.
  • Some films — like Hulu’s hit Prey — are going straight to streaming.

So, what’s different now?

Instead of unlimited viewings, MoviePass’ tiered subscription offers credits for $10-$30/mo.

  • Spikes previously said it’d cost fewer credits if users saw a matinee or older film, and that users could watch ads to earn credits.

It’s a strategy that just might get butts in seats during off hours, or for movies people might otherwise wait to stream.

The next anticipated blockbuster — Black Panther: Wakanda Forever — doesn’t open until November.

But smaller releases in between — Don’t Worry Darling, The Woman King, Triangle of Sadness — may appeal to cinephiles willing to give MoviePass a second chance.

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