January 30, 2018
NEWS ANALYSIS: Wall Street loves scuttlebutt. Rumors and speculation make stocks do crazy things.
On the morning of Jan. 30, shares of Helios and Matheson Analytics, majority owner of theatrical ticket subscription service MoviePass, edged up slightly (2%, the day after rising 9%) on talk Netflix is an interested suitor.
MoviePass has been in the news lately as a significant disruptor of the theatrical ecosystem. The service gives members access to one screening daily for a $9.95 monthly fee. In less than six months more than 1.5 million people have signed up.
What piques Wall Street attention about MoviePass – besides the disruptor subscription business model – is the fact that CEO Mitch Lowe once was a senior executive at Netflix and is often credited with co-launching the streaming video behemoth. Lowe also once headed Redbox.
Of course there is no official word from Netflix, considering many observers characterize the “news” as crazy.
MoviePass pays theater operators full value for tickets used by subscribers. The service is now trying to extract revenue-share agreements with major chains as it has with about 1,000 independent screens.
The company says it has driven significant attendance to theaters. Market observers contend MoviePass accounts for about 4% of foot traffic at AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest chain.
Indeed, Netflix has a tortured history with theaters. It doesn’t much care for them. The service contends the 90-day theatrical window is archaic in today’s tech-savvy market with ubiquitous access.
Netflix, which is planning to bow upwards of 80 feature movies through next year, makes original movies – such as the big-budget futuristic cop drama Bright – available globally for streaming concurrent with theatrical.
As a result, theaters passed on the Will Smith- Joel Edgerton buddy film that reportedly generated 11 million streamings in the first 72 hours upon launch. Ditto for Okja, the $50 million Korean sci-fi drama and Cannes Film Festival nominee.
Regardless, Wedbush Securities Michael Pachter says suggestion of Netflix’s interest in MoviePass is as much amusing as baffling.
“That makes no sense to me whatsoever,” Pachter said. “Remember, Mitch Lowe was a co-founder of Netflix [with Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph], and presumably, they’re no longer best friends.”