May 22, 2018
On a recent trip to Costco, I picked up some discounted Regal Theater tickets. While in line, I saw a friend who said, “We don’t get those anymore. We have MoviePass.”
If you are looking for a theatrical discount, indeed MoviePass beats just about everything — except for seeing a movie for free. For $9.95 a month ($6.95 a month for a year commitment), if you see one movie in roughly 30 days you are already getting that Costco discount. If you see more, the discount doubles, triples, quadruples, etc. (depending on how many movies in a month you have the time and desire to see).
Still, why should the home entertainment industry care?
Well, there are only 24 hours in a day. The time consumers spend going to the movies for little to no cost is time they won’t spend renting or buying and watching a disc or digital version of a film.
Also, each time MoviePass consumers go to a film during a month, they may perceive that content as that much less valuable. If theatrical movies are worth $9.95 or $6.95 or even much less than that — less than 50 cents apiece if you go 30 times a month — why should they pay $20 for a disc, much less EST?
I’ve watched this business long enough to remember the inception of Redbox and Netflix, both of which MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe had a hand in getting off the ground. At the time, the industry didn’t think much of those upstarts. I vividly remember a Blockbuster spokesperson telling me kiosks were a niche business. Now Blockbuster is history, and kiosk company Redbox is the biggest physical disc rental company in the United States.
Why does MoviePass matter? Because it is disrupting the value of and way consumers perceive entertainment. That matters to the home entertainment business, as well as to our theatrical brethren.
So don’t take too much solace in the financial woes of MoviePass. I remember a long line of executives no longer in the business that wrote off Lowe’s previous ventures.