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 Ventures Touts BIFA Nominations for ‘American Animals’

MoviePass Ventures announced its first entry into film distribution, American Animals, has received several nominations for British Independent Film Awards.

The film is being distributed in association with The Orchard.

Nods include Best Independent Film; Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Debut Screenwriter (Bart Layton); Best Supporting Actor for both Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters; Best Casting; Best Cinematography; and Best Editing.

“We are floored,” said Ted Farnsworth, chairman of MoviePass Ventures. “To reach the moon on our maiden voyage is absolutely phenomenal. We knew we had something special at the Sundance Film Festival when we got on board and these nominations more than confirm that we were right.”

MoviePass Ventures, a wholly-owned subsidiary of HMNY announced at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, collaborates with film distributors and creatives to co-acquire film rights.

American Animals follows four friends who live an ordinary existence in Kentucky. After a visit to Transylvania University, one of them comes up with the idea to steal the rarest and most valuable books from the school’s library. In planning the art heist, the men question whether their attempts to inject excitement and purpose into their lives are simply misguided attempts at achieving the American dream.

MoviePass Struggling to Sell Tickets to Its Own Movies

NEWS ANALYSIS — Gotti, the Italian crime boss biopic starring John Travolta dropped by Lionsgate and acquired (partially) by MoviePass, generated $1.67 million during its opening box office weekend.

Media reports say the movie subscription service owned by Helios and Mathenson Analytics (HMNY) accounted for about 40% of the $10 million budgeted film’s tickets sold. That’s a bigger percentage than the $135,000 opening weekend for American Animals, the indie heist film HMNY’s MoviePass Ventures acquired last year at Sundance.

While Gotti infamously generated a 0% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the reality is that MoviePass essentially bought four out of every 10 tickets sold to its own movie. That’s because the service pays theater operators face value for every ticket “purchased” by its 3 million subscribers, who pay $9.95 monthly for access.

The margins might actually be better since MoviePass has leveraged ticket price discounts with many indie exhibitors in exchange for generating foot traffic.

It used to be in distribution, we’d all gossip whether a studio was buying tickets to their own movie to goose their opening. But in the case of MoviePass, there’s no secret: They’re literally buying the tickets to their own movie!” an unidentified indie studio executive told Deadline.com.

But for how long? HMNY is spending more on tickets monthly than it generates in subscriber revenue — an economic reality that has plummeted the stock price to 35 cents-per-share.