MoviePass Founders Say Subscription Service 'Would Never Have Happened' Without iPhones in New App Store Feature

by

Apple today on the iOS App Store shared a new interview with the founders of MoviePass, touching on the service's origins and its integral ties to the iPhone and modern smartphone app development. MoviePass debuted in 2011, but grew in popularity last August when the company dropped its subscription price to $9.95/month, which lets customers see one standard 2D film every day in the theater

In Apple's new interview with Stacy Spikes and Hamet Watt -- the pair of entrepreneurs who founded MoviePass seven years ago -- the conversation eventually focuses on where the idea for MoviePass emerged. According to Spikes, the kernel of the idea that would become MoviePass originated from art-house theaters in New York City that let customers see unlimited movies for a flat donation fee.

moviepass iphone x
He tried to install a similar model for his own Urbanworld Film Festival in the late 1990s, but admitted it was "too early," and that iPhones, apps, and the advances in development that emerged from this technology were all needed to address the technical roadblocks of such a service.

"The idea was almost too early," says Spikes. "We didn't have iPhones and apps to figure out payment and interfacing. If it weren't for that development, MoviePass would never have happened."

MoviePass works through the use of both the iPhone app and a paired debit card that is sent to subscribers through the mail after they sign up. If you want to see a movie, you travel to your local theater (MoviePass is supported at over 90 percent of theaters nationwide), select a 2D showtime, "check in," and at that time MoviePass transfers the exact cost of the showing to your MoviePass card. Then you can buy a ticket at the box office or a kiosk like any normal ticket purchase.

Although the service is growing, many reports in the months following its August price drop have questioned how long the company can keep up the $9.95/month subscription fee (currently $7.95/month paid annually), as well as its public conflict with theater chain AMC. What MoviePass lacks in profit it hopes to make up for in accrued user data, selling a majority stake of itself to data company Helios and Matheson Analytics, which sees "big potential in the type of information it can glean from MoviePass members," with "no plans to sell user data to outside parties."

As of January 2018, MoviePass had 1.5 million subscribers. According to CEO Mitch Lowe, MoviePass will hit three million subscribers by the end of April, and turn a profit once four million subscribers sign up for the service.

MoviePass updated its iOS app [Direct Link] to support the iPhone X this month, providing a revamped user interface with more emphasis on images from popular films, better navigation, and an updated screen for the check in process. If you want to read the full interview with the creators of MoviePass, you can find the discussion with Stacy Spikes and Hamet Watt at the top of the Today tab on the iOS 11 App Store on iPhone or iPad.

Top Rated Comments

redneckitengineer Avatar
38 months ago
I love my MoviePass, I’ve had it since the $80/yr option last year. I’ve been to the movies more than ever, and I’ll buy concessions now. I’ve never had a problem with it, and I always recommend them to friends. Hopefully they’ll get a family plan going eventually. If for some reason MoviePass goes under, I’ll just go back to RedBox. I’ll change my habits before I go back to paying $12/ticket.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RowellE Avatar
38 months ago
Love MoviePass. I’ve seen more movies in two months than I have the past five years combined. I’m seeing movies I normally wouldn’t go out of my way to go and see. I recommend the service to everyone.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
phillylow Avatar
38 months ago

No theater around me will touch this app. I've mentioned it several times to people I know in the industry and they flat-out will not use it.

The theatre has nothing to do with the app. They don't need to have any agreement with Movie Pass for you to be able to use Movie Pass to see a movie there. Movie Pass merely provides you with a debit card to purchase a ticket, as long as the theatre is listed in the app and you have checked in on the app for the movie you want to see.

There is NO REQUIREMENT for the movie theatre to "accept" Movie Pass.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
scfxmac Avatar
38 months ago
As a developer forced to abide by Apple's rules, I'm incredibly confused as to how this company is allowed to bypass the typical Apple subscription rules, and not pay a commission to Apple. The user is forced to enter their credit card info *DIRECTLY INTO THE APP*, which completely bypasses the typical iTunes App Store subscription flow. It's the only app I've ever seen of its kind in this sense. Can anyone explain how this is possible?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheSuperE Avatar
38 months ago

I used my MoviePass for the first time this Monday. Painless.
Only thing I don't like is that if you go with your spouse, you have to pay separately with the pass card. Just a slight inconvenience but still. Also, I don't like that you can't get your tickets online ahead of the showtime and select your seats. You have to "check-in" at the theater but still, with these few probs it's still a GREAT DEAL! I got ours through Costco and it was even cheaper

Ah but you can. GO a tad earlier than you typically would. My MoviePass CC is saved in my Alamo draft house app. Do this:

1) Open MoviePass and "Check into your movie"
2) Open the Theater App find your movie and choose your seat.
3) Pay with your MoviePass account.
4) Go to Kiosk or if they allow digital tickets...
5) Just walk in.

Hope that helps.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
newyorksole Avatar
38 months ago

Since this scheme doesn't make any money- the monetizing comes from deep data tracking analysis of its customers. Where you were, what date, at what time, what movie. Beyond creepy.
Your privacy is extremely valuable. That's why creepy companies like this (and Google) go to extreme lengths the take it away from you.

Yikes. It’s a damn movie app. What are you really afraid of? Do you realize how many companies have your information and can see what you’ve ordered and where you live etc.

Give me a break. So glad I’m not paranoid.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

lg wing

LG Considering Exit From Smartphone Business, Halts LCD Production for iPhone

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:38 am PST by
LG is considering exiting the smartphone business entirely amid declining shipments and accrued losses of $4.5 billion over the past five years (via The Korea Herald). LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok cautioned staff earlier today that the company is re-evaluating its presence in the smartphone industry: Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about...
google maps detailed street level e1611052089473

Google Maps Gains Enhanced Street-Level Detail in Four Major Cities

Tuesday January 19, 2021 2:34 am PST by
Google Maps has quietly been updated to include significantly more detailed street-level information in a handful of key cities around the world. Upon zooming in, Google's maps for Central London, Tokyo, San Francisco, and New York now benefit from shapes and widths that match the scale of roads more accurately. Meanwhile, enhanced graphical representations of sidewalks, crosswalks,...
2019 mac pro side and front

Tim Cook Gifted Donald Trump 'First' 2019 Mac Pro

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:45 pm PST by
Apple CEO Tim Cook gifted former United States President Donald Trump with the first 2019 Mac Pro that came off of the assembly line in Austin, Texas, according to a financial disclosure report that was released today (via The Verge). "Mac Pro Computer, the first created at the Flex Factory in Austin, Texas," reads the entry, which values the machine at $5,999, the base price for a Mac Pro....
airpods max sim ejector

AirPods Max Headband Removable With Just a SIM Ejector Tool, Hinting at Interchangeable Headbands

Tuesday January 19, 2021 8:25 am PST by
It is possible to remove the headband of AirPods Max with just a standard SIM card ejector tool, hinting at the possibility of interchanging headbands to achieve a different colorway. Image via Prelook In December, MacRumors revealed the large variety of AirPods Max ear cushion color combinations when it became clear that they were magnetically attatched and available for sale separately....
iphone 5s black slate

Images of Unreleased iPhone 5s in Black and Slate Shared Online

Sunday January 17, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today shared images of a prototype iPhone 5s in an unreleased Black and Slate color. The iPhone 5s was launched in September 2013. The device featured Touch ID, a 64-bit processor, and a True Tone LED flash for the first time. Other new features included a five-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 15 percent larger camera sensor, Burst Mode, and Slo-Mo...
iphone 12 vs iphone 12 mini

Apple Shifting Some Production From iPhone 12 mini to iPhone 12 Pro to Meet Demand

Wednesday January 20, 2021 8:12 am PST by
Apple has reportedly cut production of the iPhone 12 mini by two million units to create more manufacturing capacity for the iPhone 12 Pro, according to a new Morgan Stanley investment note seen by PED30. Apple is believed to have made the switch for the first quarter of 2021 in an effort to combat continuing lead times for the more popular iPhone 12 Pro. iPhone 12 Pro lead times remain ...
Apple VR Feature

Bloomberg: Apple's First AR/VR Headset 'Pricey, Niche Precursor' to More Ambitious AR Glasses and Could Launch Next Year

Thursday January 21, 2021 3:27 am PST by
Apple's first virtual reality headset will be a "pricey, niche precursor" to a more ambitious augmented reality product, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. As a mostly virtual reality device, it will display an all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating. AR functionality, the ability to overlay images and information over a view...
shot on iphone 12 apple

Apple Highlights Photos Shot by iPhone 12 Users: Portraits, Cityscapes, and More

Tuesday January 19, 2021 6:05 am PST by
Apple today shared a gallery of photos shot by customers using the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, with scenes including cityscapes, landscapes, portraits of people, and more at day and night. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by "NKCHU" in China (top) and shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by Rohit Vohra in India (bottom) iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 models have a dual camera ...
Apple and Hyundai feature

Apple Car Production Again Linked to Kia Motor's US Plant in Georgia

Tuesday January 19, 2021 4:19 am PST by
Hyundai intends to transition the company's Apple Car involvement to its Kia brand as part of an internal arrangement that could see production move to the U.S., according to a new report today. On Sunday, Korea IT News reported that Apple and Hyundai are seeking a partnership agreement for the upcoming Apple Car by March, and that the electric vehicles could be made at a Georgia factory...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature

iPhone 13 Rumored to Feature Smaller Notch, Pro Model Cameras to Use Larger Image Sensor

Thursday January 21, 2021 1:38 am PST by
Apple's iPhone 13 series will feature a redesigned Face ID system that will allow for a smaller notch at the top of the screen, according to a new report today. The rumor comes via hit-and-miss Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, whose supply chain sources also claim that the ultra wide-angle lens in Apple's next-generation iPhones is due for an upgrade. The next-generation iPhones'...