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

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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.


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

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32 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)
Avatar
32 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)
Avatar
32 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)
Avatar
32 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)
Avatar
32 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)
Avatar
32 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)

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