Ex-Helios and Matheson Analytics CEO Looking to Buy MoviePass Assets

Former Helios and Matheson Analytics CEO Ted Farnsworth just doesn’t know when to quit.

A day after stepping down as CEO of the parent to shuttered MoviePass ticket subscription service and related businesses (MoviePass Films, Moviefone), Farnsworth reportedly is cobbling together a group of investors to buy select MoviePass assets.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which cited HMNY internal documents, including Farnsworth’s resignation letter, the executive eyes continuing MoviePass Films, which generated several original releases starring Bruce Willis.

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Whether Farnsworth — a longtime MoviePass cheerleader along with the service’s CEO Mitch Lowe — would bring back MoviePass is unclear.

Ted Farnsworth

Launched in 2017, the $9.95 monthly ticket service offered subscribers daily access to a non-3D theatrical screening. At its peak, MoviePass had more than 3 million subscribers eager to take advantage of a business model that hemorrhaged money.

The service sought to make deals with exhibitors who were paid face value by MoviePass for every ticket used by subscribers in exchange for user data.

Chains such as AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas and others wouldn’t bite, opting instead to launch competing ticket services.

Despite several attempts to re-invent the MoviePass business model, investors pulled the plug on HMNY shares — especially after two reverse-stock option split attempts.

Whether investors would line up behind Farnsworth for another edition of MoviePass remains to be seen. HMNY could also sell the assets to a third party.

Moviefone Hires Former Rotten Tomatoes Editor to Reboot Brand

Moviefone, the 1990s-era movie ticket/recommendation telephone service owned by Helios and Matheson Analytics March 28 announced that former Rotten Tomatoes senior editor Grae Drake has assumed the role of “Ms. Moviefone” to serve as the brand’s personality.

The announcement comes as Moviefone launches a new initiative seeking to become a consumer destination for content, reviews and commentary for movies.

Grae Drake

Competition includes online movie ratings platform Rotten Tomatoes, which is owned and operated by NBC Universal subsidiary Fandango.

In a nod to the former “Mr. Moviefone” telephone character, Drake will provide “go-to” commentary on the entertainment industry, in addition to movie recommendations.

Drake will interview filmmakers, celebrities and appear at industry events to provide an inside look at the movies.

She will be responsible for producing and hosting a series of original video content on the Moviefone site. Drake will also oversee the evolution of existing video content, such as the “Unscripted” series, providing Moviefone with the flexibility to continue creating and growing its video library.

Developing dynamic video content will allow viewers to form a bond with Ms. Moviefone and have a more engaging experience with the brand.

“Having a female voice of authority about movies is really important. It’s making the change I want to see regarding representation and gender parity in film media, which is still overwhelmingly male,” Matt Atchity, GM of Moviefone (and former editor-in-chief at Rotten Tomatoes), said in a statement.

Drake is most well-known as a Rotten Tomatoes editor and film critic, which included guest appearances on NBC’s “Today Show”and ABC’s “20/20”and “World News Tonight.”

She is also the recipient of the 2017 Press Award from the International Cinematographers Guild. In this new role, Drake reunites with Atchity and will be working with Drew Taylor, recently promoted to managing editor at Moviefone.

“Ms. Moviefone is the perfect way to connect with moviegoers and strengthen our brand recognition,” said Ted Farnsworth, CEO of Helios and Matheson Analytics. “Moviefone has a bright future ahead, and I know Grae is the perfect person to help make our vision a reality.”

 

MoviePass Raises $6 Million in Funding

Helios and Matheson Analytics, the cash-strapped parent to MoviePass and MoviePass Films March 26 announced it has raised a $6 million in financing.

Helios plans to use the proceeds to accelerate MoviePass’ product development, fine tune its subscription technology, and increase MoviePass Films’ investment in new content.

In addition to working capital purposes, Helios will use the net proceeds to redeem approximately $870,000 of Helios’ outstanding non-convertible senior notes that were issued on Oct. 4, 2018 and Dec. 18, 2018, and to pay certain fees due to the placement agent and financial advisor and other transaction expenses.

“We are building the infrastructure, data and tools that we believe will power the next generation of MoviePass,” CEO Ted Farnsworth said in a statement. “We believe this new funding will allow us to double down on our development of transformative technology, while fueling our continued expansion.”

In connection with the financing, Helios agreed to convert the 60,000 shares of preferred stock to 1 million shares of common stock, among other stock warrants. As a result, each share of preferred stock is convertible into 16,667 shares of Helios’ common stock – or more than 666 million shares of common stock priced at a penny each.

The financing comes as Helios cited user fraud for ongoing financial challenges to its theatrical subscription ticket service MoviePass. The service has hemorrhaged hundreds of millions of dollars, contributing to Helios’ shares’ being delisted by Nasdaq.

 

 

Khalid Itum Departs MoviePass; CTO and Human Resources Executives Transition to Consultants

MoviePass March 13 disclosed that Khalid Itum, hired last December to oversee daily operations at the fiscally-challenged movie theater subscription service, is leaving the company.

Khalid Itum

“Itum will be leaving MoviePass to pursue his entrepreneurial and travel pursuits,” a spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement.

The departure comes as chief technology officer Joey Adarkway and Jake Peterson, head of human resources, transition from fulltime employees to consultants.

The personnel moves come the day after corporate parent Helios and Matheson Analytics disclosed, in a regulatory filing, that MoviePass lost nearly $10 million more ($146.6 million) in the most-recent fiscal filing than was originally disclosed.

Meanwhile, HMNY appears to be successfully churning out content through its MoviePass Films unit headed by co-founders Randall Emmett and George Furla. The company’s content include dramas with Bruce Willis (10 Minutes Gone) — the first of three titles with the actor, and Al Pacino and Meadow Williams in current production, Axis Sally.

In addition, Border, a Cannes-winning film MoviePass Films co-distributed with Neon Rated, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

“As previously stated, MoviePass has moved in a new strategic direction, and will be refocusing our business model to create a more closely connected relationship between our subscription service and original content production unit, MoviePass Films,” said the spokesperson.

 

 

MoviePass Reinventing Business Model — Again

With its corporate (Helios and Matheson Analytics) parent’s stock delisted, theatrical ticket subscription service MoviePass is again attempting to reinvent its business model and relevance — this time without relying on exhibitor cooperation and revenue.

Following the previously announced MoviePass Entertainment Holdings integrating film production and exhibition, MoviePass said it plans to implement a new business model that prioritizes “self-generated” revenue.

Specifically, the fiscally-challenged ticket service plans to focus on “technological innovation” and “high-quality” content production through MoviePass (theatrical subscription service); MoviePass Films (original content production company) and Moviefone (multimedia media information and advertising service).

“Spending the last several months analyzing the many different aspects of our prior business model, in terms of what worked and what didn’t, I believe we’ve been able to illuminate the path forward,” Ted Farnsworth, CEO of HMNY, said in a statement.

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MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe said the ticket service has gained a “tremendous amount” of insight into moviegoers and the industry over the past 18 months.

Indeed, the service, which launched to much fanfare offering consumers daily access to a theatrical screening for a monthly $9.95 fee, could never financially pay for the loss leader business model without exhibitor help — which the service never received.

As the fiscal losses mounted, HMNY’s stock plummeted. Exhibitors AMC Theatres and Cineworld launched their own ticket subscription services.

MoviePass, however, has apparently been successful in content production.

MoviePass Films, through co-founders co-founders Randall Emmett and George Furla, continue to generate films, including dramas with Bruce Willis (10 Minutes Gone) — the first of three titles with the actor, and Al Pacino and Meadow Williams in current production, Axis Sally.

In addition, Border, a Cannes-winning film MoviePass Films co-distributed with Neon Rated, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

“We now have a winning combination that we believe will drive consumers to our films and re-energize casual moviegoers to go more often and see great films in local theaters,” said Lowe.

 

Report: MoviePass Parent Expected to Delist

With its stock flatlining at a penny per share, Helios & Matheson Analytics — parent of fiscally-challenged theatrical ticket service MoviePass — is expected to delist from Nasdaq.

Bloomberg, citing market data, said HMNY could delist as early as the end of the business day on Feb. 12 — resuming trading as an over-the-counter stock.

HMNY spun-off MoviePass in January in an attempt to jumpstart investor confidence after the pioneering $9.95 monthly over-the-top ticket service resonated with consumers at the expense of a stable business model.

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Successive fiscal quarters generated fiscal losses in the hundreds of millions, compounded by the launch of a competing ticket service from AMC Theatres that resulted in a free-falling HMNY stock.

While MoviePass Films continues to produce low-budget movies, MoviePass took another PR hit when Variety reported that a senior executive recently hired to help turn the service around had been charged in 2010 with stealing thousands of dollars from a previous employer.

MoviePass Looking to Market Ticket Subscription Technology to Theaters

MoviePass, the beleaguered subscription theatrical ticket service, is looking to market its technology to exhibitors.

Dubbed a “red label” solution, the strategy is to enable theater owners a means of offering a proprietary subscription ticket service to consumers.

In addition to MoviePass, AMC Theatres and Cinemark currently offer monthly ticket subscription plans.

“Our new business strategy is stabilize, optimize and grow,” Khalid Itum, EVP of MoviePass, told Variety, which first reported the move.

MoviePass in August 2017 turned the exhibition service on its ear offering a $9.95 monthly service that enabled subscribers daily access to a theatrical screening.

While the loss-leader pricing concept resonated with millions of consumers, paying for it proved to be a debacle for MoviePass and its corporate parent Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY).

With the service hemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars, it has introduced seesaw measures to rein in costs, alienating consumers in the process.

MoviePass now charges from $9.95 to $24.95  monthly for theatrical access depending on market location. A new unlimited plan is also in the works.

HMNY’s stock has taken a beating on Wall Street, with shares in risk of being delisted for failing to meet the $1-per-share minimum. The corporate parent this week filed papers looking to spin off MoviePass to a subsidiary in hopes of resuscitating the penny stock.

HMNY subsidiary MoviePass Films got a boost this week after its film, Border, was nominated for an Academy Award in the “Best Makeup and Hairstyling” category. Announced last September, MoviePass Films partnered with Neon Rated LLC to co-release the Cannes award-winning film from writer and director Ali Abbasi.

The Swedish fantasy film is based on the short story of the same name by Ajvide Lindqvist from his anthology “Let the Old Dreams Die.” It won the Un Certain Regard award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and was selected as the Swedish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards, though it was not nominated.

 

 

MoviePass Films Inks Bruce Willis for Three New Projects

While its parent company – Helios and Matheson Analytics – lost $137 million in the most-recent fiscal period, with the stock worth about 1.6 cents, that hasn’t stopped MoviePass Films from signing Bruce Willis to a three-film deal.

Willis, who recently finished filming drama 10 Minutes Gone for Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films, agreed to the new deal with the production company he has made 14 movies (such as 16 Blocks and Lay the Favorite) for over his career.

Helios and Matheson Analytics, which owns and operates fiscally-challenged subscription theatrical ticket service, MoviePass, acquired Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films earlier this year, renaming the unit MoviePass Films.

Willis’ first movie in the new deal is Trauma Center, which reportedly begins filming in Miami in February.

“After 15 years, I look forward to continuing to work with Randall [Emmett] and George [Furla] in the coming year,” Willis said in a statement.

 

MoviePass Promotes Itum to EVP

MoviePass, the movie theater subscription service and majority-owned subsidiary of Helios and Matheson Analytics, has appointed Khalid Itum to EVP.

Previously VP of business development, Itum will continue to report to CEO Mitch Lowe. Itum will manage day-to-day operations at MoviePass, working closely with both Lowe and HMNY CEO Ted Farnsworth to spearhead company development, and drive its exhibition and distribution strategies forward, according to a MoviePass press release. Itum will also be responsible for creating its strategic plan and ensuring its implementation.

“Khalid is a unique talent with an amazing vision, who has been an integral part of MoviePass since 2014,” said Lowe in a statement. “Before coming on in a full-time capacity in 2017 to lead our studio affairs and distributor partnerships, he played a significant role as an advisor. As we continue to spur innovation across the industry, he not only strengthens our sales and operations efforts across the organization, but he deepens our relationships within the industry ecosystem.”

As VP, Itum had been responsible for driving revenue through multiple studio and independent distributor partnerships and various brand and content deals. He played a crucial role in growing MoviePass’ Los Angeles office and led the strategic formation of MoviePass Ventures and its first acquisition of American Animals — alongside The Orchard — at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, according to the release. He also spearheaded the acquisition of Moviefone from Oath earlier this year.

“Khalid has a proven track record and I believe he will serve our financial goals and increase our overall operating performance,” said Ted Farnsworth, CEO of Helios and Matheson, in a statement. “Khalid brings a remarkable enthusiasm and passion to the job each day and truly shares in the overall vision of MoviePass.”

“I’m eager to continue building MoviePass and am proud of how far we’ve come,” said Itum in a statement. “The road hasn’t been easy — and the hyper growth has been challenging. However, we’ve taken a hard look over the past few weeks and months at what needs to happen in order to not just preserve what we’ve built, but to use it as a foundation upon which to build. Because of this, I know we’ll emerge a better partner to the theaters (big and small), major studios and independent distributors with whom we have the privilege of working to collectively best serve the interests of the American consumer. You may notice we’ve been out of the news for some time, and that’s been by design. At MoviePass, we’ve recently prioritized building toward a vision that aligns our success with greater consumption of entertainment. You’ll soon be able to judge for yourselves, and I believe that the best marketing we can do, today and always, is to enhance our product and treat our subscriber as a member of something special: because that’s what MoviePass is to a great number of Americans already. It’s on us to regain their trust. I believe the future is bright for our company, and I couldn’t do it without my team which has been giving its 200% dedication and effort to transform the offering and platform into its full potential. I look forward to announcing some powerful additions to our management team to join with us in charging forward.”

MoviePass Films Invests in Sports-Themed Documentary

MoviePass Films, the theatrical ticket subscription service’s content acquisition unit, Nov. 1 announced an agreement with Art of Sport, the newly-formed, sports-centric distribution entity behind upcoming feature-length documentary, In Search of Greatness.

MoviePass Films, which is owned by MoviePass parent Helios and Matheson Analytics, has come on as an investor and strategic marketing partner ahead of the film’s early-November theatrical release.

In Search Of Greatness, directed by documentarian Gabe Polsky, best known for Red Army, which debuted in Cannes in 2014, and his work on Nat Geo’s Emmy-award-winning TV show, “Genius,” examines the importance of creativity in determining athletic ability, in addition to analyzing the roles nature and nurture play in the development of young athletes.

The film, which includes interviews with hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, superstar wide receiver Jerry Rice, and soccer icon Pele, opens in 11 major U.S. markets on Nov. 2, and expands to theaters across North America by mid-month.

“We are pleased to be able to continue supporting independent creators and helping them bring their artistic visions to life on the big screen,” MoviePass Films chairman Ted Farnsworth and co-CEO Randall Emmett, said in a statement.

The investment follows a busy month of deal-making for the MoviePass Films. In September, it partnered with indie distributor Neon to co-release Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Sundance award-winner Monsters and Men (currently in theaters), and is preparing to co-release the second film in that partnership, Ali Abassi’s Cannes award-winner Border (which debuts in theaters this week).

MoviePass Films also recently wrapped production on its Bruce Willis-starrer 10 Minutes Gone and green-lit Neil Marshall’s The Reckoning, which starts production in Wales in January. The MoviePass Films team intends to produce 10-12 films annually, in addition to acquiring 8-10 films per year, starting in 2019.

MoviePass Films via MoviePass and Moviefone, will mount a marketing campaign to support the film’s success, while in theaters. In Search of Greatness will be made available to MoviePass subscribers as a “Bonus Movie,” which will not count toward their monthly in-theater movie ticket allotment. MoviePass™ subscribers will also have a chance to attend the films’ red-carpet premieres and receive other special perks throughout the duration of the partnership.