AMC Theatres Ticket Subscription Service Tops 380,000 Members

AMC Theatres Sept. 26 announced that AMC Stubs A-List – the ticket subscription service launched three months ago to compete against MoviePass – has generated more than 380,000 monthly subscribers – including 120,000 members in the past six weeks.

The nation’s largest theatrical chain heralded the sub growth during the traditional “slow period” at movie theatres in late August and September, as the summer blockbusters give way to school schedules.

AMC said A-List is also driving box office revenue at its theaters, as the service’s impact on attendance, along with AMC’s other initiatives and a film slate, has AMC in position to increase U.S. attendance year over year for the first time since 2015, excluding the impact from the Carmike acquisition.

A-List subs are watching a wide variety of movies, including more than 363 different movie titles in just under 90 days. Early program analysis indicates incremental movie-going frequency among members after joining the program is significant. AMC noted that more than 45% of A-List subs were not previously signed up to its existing AMC Stubs loyalty program.

AMC also recently announced that its 12-month protection guarantee from the date of a member’s enrollment against any increases in A-List monthly pricing has been broadened to further provide consumers with a sustainable value. The 12-month protection guarantee for members of A-List enrolling anytime in 2018 now includes no changes in the pricing or benefits from the program within a member’s initial 12 months after joining the program.

“The early success of this program is evident as AMC is projecting an attendance increase at our U.S. theatres for the first time in three years,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “This is very good for AMC, and very good for our guests and movie studio partners.”

AMC Theatres Ticket Subscription Service Tops 260,000 Subs

AMC Stubs A-List, the theatrical chain’s response to MoviePass, has generated 260,000 subscribers since launching the $19.95 service seven weeks ago, according to AMC Theatres.

The nation’s largest movie exhibitor chain said AMC Stubs A-List already has been responsible for more than 1 million in attendance at its movie theatres – and account for more than 5% of AMC’s weekly attendance.

A-List enables subs to purchase full-price tickets by online reservation, which it said resulted in 40% of subs buying additional tickets to see a movie. A-List members now account for more than 4% of AMC’s domestic attendance. The service is projected to reach 500,000 subs by June 2019.

AMC said the service shows broad geographic and demographic appeal. Subs have utilized the service at each of AMC’s 640 locations throughout 44 states in the U.S. Membership levels are strong across all age and ethnicity groups. Indeed, 28% of enrolled members are under the age of 30.

“While one would think that the rate of signups will inevitably have to slow down at some point, enrollments now are continuing at quite a brisk pace, getting AMC to scale much sooner than we initially anticipated,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement.

AMC subs are watching a wide variety of movies, including more than 150 different titles. Early program analysis indicates incremental movie-going frequency among subs is significant; 45% of A-List members were not previously signed up to its AMC Stubs loyalty programs.

The AMC A-List membership includes a 12-month price protection guarantee from the date of a member’s enrollment.

“We expect that AMC Stubs A-List will be a permanent part of our marketing activity going forward,” Aron said.

In an apparent dig at ongoing turmoil at rival MoviePass, Aron said the A-List program is designed with the same integrity as an airline frequent flyer program.

“We fervently believe that consumers have a basic right to expect to be able to rely on us to honor the commitments that we make, and that they not have to fear constant program changes that come without warning,” he said.

Indeed, Aron’s comments come the same day MoviePass announced it would begin restricting subscriber access to select movies and showtimes.

MoviePass Missteps No Laughing Matter

Fiscally challenged MoviePass caught a break when it ditched a planned price hike and instituted a limit on the number of theatrical movies subscribers could see in a month.

The new rule limiting the service’s 3 million subs to three screenings (instead of daily access) should go far staunching the reported $45 million monthly cash burn that has sent investors fleeing and left analysts scratching their heads.

But is it enough? Shares of MoviePass corporate parent Helios and Matheson Analytics are trading around 9 cents per share. The stock has become a day-trader’s punching bag with more than 460 million shares trading hands Aug. 6.

Throughout it all MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe and HMNY CEO Ted Farnsworth have maintained high profiles in corporate and fiscal mismanagement.

Lowe, the former Netflix executive and Redbox boss, has a reputation as an industry visionary/disruptor. Following HMNY’s 92% acquisition stake in MoviePass last August (the service was founded in 2011 by African American businessmen Stacey Spikes and Hamet Watt), Farnsworth and Lowe slashed the $50 monthly fee to $9.95 and went on the PR offensive.

Consumers noticed, and the subscriber base ballooned from 20,000 to 600,000, and then 1 million as the concept of essentially watching a theatrical movie for free 30 out 31 days caught fire.

Lowe and Farnsworth predicted MoviePass would hit 5 million subs by the end of the year and be profitable. At the same time, the duo got cocky.

MoviePass would do more than facilitate increased exhibitor foot traffic, it expanded into indie film acquisitions (American AnimalsGotti) and acquired ’90s holdover Moviefone (largely for Verizon’s minority investment).

Lowe and Farnsworth hyped MoviePass’ user data, and what it could mean to marketers. And that’s when things veered off the rails.

As first reported in March by Stephanie Prange at Media Play News, Lowe, speaking at an industry event, bragged the service knew a lot of details about its subscribers.

“We know all about you,” Lowe said at the self-serving keynote, “Data is the New Oil: How Will MoviePass Monetize It?”

“We get an enormous amount of information,” he said, noting the company knows subscribers’ addresses and can glean demographic information based on where they live. The company also can track subs via the app and a phone GPS.

“We watch how you drive from home to the movies,” he said. “We watch where you go afterwards.”

The reaction was swift. Like an exploding Orwellian timebomb, media pundits, including social, jumped all over Lowe’s bravado, forcing the executive to clarify his comments. MoviePass quickly hired a VP of customer service to assuage any subscriber concerns.

That didn’t stop Farnsworth from perpetuating the service’s data prowess – at the same time MoviePass continued to hemorrhage money.

“Boggles my mind,” Farnsworth told Media & Entertainment Service Alliances’ Smart Content Summit in New York last month, contending studios knew little about the people who watch their movies.

Actually, studios and exhibitors know a lot about their customers, according to Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest movie theater chain – and major beneficiary of MoviePass paying face value for every ticket redeemed by subscribers (see photo above).

Indeed, Aron said AMC applied its consumer insight when launching A-List, a $19.95 rival service enabling subs to see three movies weekly on any AMC screen, including Imax and Real3D.

“What gives us confidence that $20 [subscription fee] is the right level for AMC is, it was more than double what anybody else [i.e. MoviePass] was charging,” said Aron.

With his back against the wall, and HMNY’s stock about to be de-listed, Lowe admits management made mistakes.

“I should have accelerated the process of reducing the burn faster in hindsight,” Lowe told The Wall Street Journal. “We’ve been whipsawing people back and forth. I think we’ve got it now.”

Wishful thinking, as more than 302 million HMNY shares traded hands Aug. 7, with the stock falling to 7 cents per share.

 

 

AMC Theatres CEO: A-List Ticket Service Designed ‘Very Intelligently’

Since launching six weeks ago, AMC Theatres’ $19.95 monthly A-List movie ticket service has generated 7,000 subscriptions every 24 hours, CEO Adam Aron told analysts on the Aug. 1 fiscal call. Launched as a response to MoviePass, A-List has more than 182,000 subs.

“Multiply 7,000 times 365 [days], these are huge numbers,” Aron said.

While MoviePass’ has attempted to alter its loss-leader business model through a price hike and restricted title access, Aron said A-List, which affords subs access to three movies weekly on any screen including Imax, Dolby Cinema and Real 3D, was designed “very intelligently.”

“We designed our program based on a lot of experience,” Aron said. “What gives us confidence that $20 [subscription fee] is the right level for AMC is, it was more than double what anybody else was charging.”

Indeed, A-List is patterned after a similar ticket subscription service AMC operates in the United Kingdom and Germany. Prior to launching A-List, AMC tested the concept ticket season pass in Colorado. Through June 30, AMC owned or operated 1,005 theatres with 10,987 screens across 16 countries.

“We really do know what we’re doing here and we’re off to a great start, and we will continue to manage the program with profitability in mind,” Aron said.

The CEO contends that for every million A-List subscribers, AMC will generate $15 million to $25 million in incremental pre-tax income, based on subscribers frequenting AMC screens 2.5 times per month. The pre-tax income range increases by $10 million should moviegoing frequency among subs drop to 2.25 times per month.

AMC projects A-List will reach 1 million subs by 2020. He admitted the surge in A-List subscriber growth is in part due to MoviePass’ well-documented troubles.

“What we are now learning is that … A-List [is] perfectly positioned to capture new business for as consumers struggle with constantly changing rules, decreasing movie availability and rising prices from other players in this space,” Aron said.

He cautioned that consumer interest in ticket subscriptions has its limit – contending the service’s potential revenue is capped at 10% of AMC annual revenue.

“We will be managing and monitoring this program extremely closely over the months and years ahead,” Aron said.

 

AMC Theatres Subscription Ticket Service Reaches 175,000 Members

AMC Theatres July 31 announced that its revamped AMC Stubs A-List subscription ticket service has generated 175,000 subscribers since launching a month ago.

The service enables subscribers to see three releases weekly in any format, including Imax, Dolby Cinema and Real 3D.

Aimed at competing against MoviePass and other subscription programs, AMC expects the $19.95 Stubs A-List to reach 500,000 subs by next June and 1 million two years after launch. The pre-existing AMC Stubs loyalty program, which affords members discounts on concessions, has nearly 16 million members.

By comparison, MoviePass, which just announced it is increasing its subscription price 50% to $14.95, has more than 3 million subs, with 5 million projected by the end of the year.

“We’re nothing less than ecstatic about the early consumer response,” Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theatres, said in a statement.

Aron said that unlike MoviePass, Stubs A-List is designed to be profitable at the current price point.

“Because it benefits our [customers], industry, studio partners and shareholders, we expect A-List will endure over the long haul,” he said.

 

AMC Theatres Launching Movie Ticket Subscription Service

NEWS ANALYSIS — AMC Theatres is getting into the movie ticket subscription service just in time for the summer box office — and striking a potentially fatal blow to MoviePass.

The nation’s largest exhibitor June 20 announced that beginning June 26, it is bowing AMC Stubs A-List, which gives subscribers access to screenings and movie reservations three times per week for $19.95 (plus tax) per month.

A-List includes the existing AMC Stubs ($15 annual fee) loyalty program featuring eliminated online ticketing fees, food and beverage discounts. It is good at any AMC location, any format — including Imax at AMC, Dolby Cinema at AMC, RealD 3D, Prime at AMC and BigD. Reservations can be held for a maximum of three movies at any one time in the current week or for future weeks.

Subscribers can watch up to three movies per day, including repeat screenings. The service does not use a special card and is Web and App based. Fathom Events shows, special fan events and some Indian Cinema titles are not included.

“We believe that our current and future loyal guests will be interested in this type of program, as AMC Stubs A-List rewards guests with something that no one else offers … one simple, sustainable price,” Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theatres, said in a statement.

Aron, of course, is referring to MoviePass, the fiscally-challenged $9.95 monthly service that enables subs to one standard theatrical screening per day. With more than 3 million subs, MoviePass has been hemorrhaging money as it lines the pockets of AMC and other exhibitors at unsustainable funding rates.

MoviePass owner Helios and Matheson Analytics’ stock is trading below 35 cents per share. In its most-recent fiscal filing, the company said it was spending an unsustainable $21 million monthly reimbursing exhibitors for tickets used by subscribers.

In response to AMC, MoviePass tweeted: “Heard AMC Theaters jumped on board the movie subscription train. Twice the price for 1/4 the theater network and 60% fewer movies. Thanks for making us look good AMC.”

That was followed up by another tweet: “AMC has repeatedly disparaged our model as a way to discourage our growth because all along they wanted to launch their own, more expensive plan. We want to make movies more accessible, they want more profit.”

To be fair, AMC’s Aron never disparaged MoviePass or the subscription business model. He criticized MoviePass’ unsustainable loss-leading subscription service.

Indeed, news of the AMC service sent HMNY shares down another two cents.

 

MoviePass Running Out of Money. Who Knew?

NEWS ANALYSIS — The rollercoaster existence of movie ticket subscription service MoviePass took another precipitous plunge May 8, with shares of parent Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY) closing down more than 31% at $1.45 per share.

To the absolute shock of no one paying attention.

The company, in a regulatory filing, disclosed it had $15.5 million in cash left in the coffer, while operating a business model that burns through $21.7 million monthly offering subscribers daily access to a theatrical screening for a $9.95 monthly fee.

To be sure, HMNY said it has another $29.7 million in deposits from associated merchants and annual subscribers; but doing the math doesn’t give that fiscal tally much of a lifespan.

Why? In January, CEO Mitch Lowe boasted MoviePass was buying one of every 35 theatrical tickets used in the United States. It had more than 2 million subscribers, with 5 million projected by year’s end.

In April, the company — in a shrewd move — acquired ’80s leftover Moviefone from Verizon’s Oath portfolio, in a deal that gave Verizon a 9% stake in MoviePass.

Then it surprisingly announced it had bought a fiscal stake in John Travolta’s biopic Gotti — after Lionsgate dropped the movie from its release slate.

“This is an ambitious movie for which we’re thrilled to offer exclusive opportunities, such as exclusive tickets to the U.S. premiere event, word of mouth screenings and other related events to our nationwide subscriber base,” said Lowe.

Lofty measures that seemed to impress believers while confusing the media.

Unfortunately, to make a loss-leader business model work requires more than hype and marketing. For MoviePass, its millions of subs have to frequent the cineplex as often as they would the gym. Not often, or at least less than once a month.

AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest exhibitor, disclosed that in April the average MoviePass subscriber frequented its screens nearly three times (2.75), for which the service paid AMC $12.03 per visit.

“Now, I took the calculator out … and I got to a number that was considerably larger than $9.95,” Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theatres, said on the chain’s fiscal call.

So too, apparently, did the HMNY brain trust, which began modifying user policy rules — seemingly by the week. Initially, MoviePass blocked admittance to select theaters (in pricier regions), and then limited access to select movies, i.e. blockbusters such as Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, to no more than one screening per subscriber.

“We hope this will encourage you to see new movies and enjoy something different!” the company wrote on its support page.

In reality, the move enabled HMNY to cut its cash deficit by more than 35% during the first week of May, according to the filing.

Wall Street had seen enough.

AMC CEO: MoviePass Paid Out Nearly Three Times Per Sub in April

A basic tenet of business is that if you spend more than you take in, you won’t be in business very long.

Late into AMC Theatres’ May 7 fiscal call, CEO Adam Aron was asked about movie ticket subscription service MoviePass and its ongoing impact on revenue.

“I have been waiting for that question the whole call,” Aron said giddily.

And with good reason. Aron has been a vocal critic of MoviePass, in large because he believes the service’s $9.95 monthly price point affording members access to one 2D screening per day is unsustainable. The executive said he supports the subscription ticket business model provided it is done “rationally” and “intelligibly.”

“We said that there’s nothing wrong with subscriptions programs. They can be quite positive … but they have to be done at a price that is [reasonable],” Aron said.

Indeed, MoviePass paid AMC $12.02 per ticket on “hundreds of thousands” of tickets, at a rate 2.75 times per subscriber, according to Aron.

“Now, I took the calculator out and I multiplied 2.75 times $12.02, and I got to a number that was considerably larger than $9.95,” he said.

Notably, AMC has been using a subscription service – dubbed “Limitless” in the United Kingdom within its Odeon theaters since 2016. The $24-$27 monthly fee enables users access to as many screenings per day as desired.

Unlike theatrical tickets in the United States, the average Odeon ticket costs $10.85 – almost a third of the subscription price. In addition, there are 121 Odeon theaters in the U.K. – a fraction of the 661 AMC theatres in the U.S.

Aron said he wasn’t sure if a similar subscription service would work domestically. He said company bean counters have dissected MoviePass subscriber activity since last September, coupled with Limitless subscriber activity over the past three years.

“This is still a small part of our business,” Aron said. “The subscription numbers are under 5% of our tickets sold, but the whole subject is intriguing one and it has our attention.”

 

MoviePass Facing PVOD Ending?

NEWS ANALYSIS – MoviePass, the upstart theatrical ticket subscription service, seeks to replicate the Netflix business model with movie-going consumers.

It’s a populist concept that gives subscribers daily access to a non-premium screening for $9.95 monthly fee. To date, the service has attracted more than 2 million subscribers — and plenty of controversy.

Since the service pays exhibitors full value for each ticket used by MoviePass subs, the business model is predicated upon users going to movies infrequently — and/or extracting revenue-sharing for tickets and concessions from exhibitors.

Ted Farnsworth, CEO of corporate parent Helios and Matheson Analytics, hasn’t been shy touting MoviePass’ industry-disrupting mojo, including data on sub activity before, during and after watching a movie.

“100 percent our business is viable — we have studios and distributors paying us right now. What I saw from day one is that whoever controls the theatre really controls all the other revenues,” Farnsworth told Benzinga.com.

Farnsworth contends the service will account for 15% of the domestic box office when it reaches 5 million subs.

“We are like the Airbnb of the theater business; we are selling as many tickets as the No. 4 theater chain in America on a monthly basis and we have no bricks and mortar, no infrastructure,” he said.

That’s the thing, MoviePass isn’t really like Airbnb at all. It doesn’t control the theater, exhibitors do. And unless it acquires a theatrical chain, it is far from the industry gatekeeper Farnsworth believe it is — no matter how many film festivals it sponsors.

In fact, MoviePass is less of threat than Premium VOD, the business model studios (except Disney) envisioned enabling users to access theatrical titles day-and-date with exhibitors or within the initial 17-day theatrical window.

Earlier this month Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest theatrical chain, pronounced PVOD dead.

“That should be a relief to many of you,” Aron said on the fiscal call.

He said PVOD could only happen if “our shareholders’ interests” were fully compensated. AMC is looking at PVOD alternatives with studios to grow the fiscal pie for all parties involved.

It’s an opinion Aron shares about MoviePass, contending the subscription model is a “great concept” — depending upon who controls it.

Aron said several hundred thousand MoviePass subs visited AMC theaters in January — or about 2.7 visits per subscriber.

“They paid us approximately $11.90 per ticket, which means that MoviePass paid us in excess of $32 per sub that showed up at an AMC theater where they were charging [that sub] $9.95 a month. We don’t see how those numbers add up,” he said.

Aron disputes the value of moviegoer data MoviePass collects as leverage with exhibitors. He said the AMC Stubs membership program has 12.5 million households, or more than 32 million consumers, including extensive movie-going expenditures.

“We market to those people approximately 75 times a year, one-and-a-half times a week,” Aron said.

Michael Pachter, media analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, says two or more visits per month on average would drive significant losses for MoviePass. He says the service is seeking a $3 cut per ticket, in addition to 25% of concessions.

Pachter contends MoviePass will continue to block subscriber entrance at higher-priced exhibitors — including blocking select movies outright — to save money. It will also have to raise the monthly price once it nears its projected 5 million sub count.

“Attendance at these rates in January indicates to us that these subscriber rates are ultimately unsustainable,” Pachter wrote in a note.