As a large man I understand the value of an all you can eat buffet. The goal is to get the best value out of what you paid, right? And eat a bunch of food?
I also understand how gyms work. If everyone who paid for a gym membership showed up at the gym all the time the gym would be too busy and it would not make money.
With movie pass I could argue that I have gotten my money’s worth for what I’ve paid. But was it worth it? I argue no. Most movies are like shitty buffet food.
I first learned about Movie Pass from one of my favorite podcasts, The Film Vault. I love listening to this show because its fun to hear how passionate Anderson and Bryan get when they have seen a movie they really like. How they talk about the good movies gets you excited about them and makes you want to see them too.
When they first mentioned Movie Pass on a holiday gift guide show I thought it would be a fun time. I love watching movies and am a huge fan of Netflix (streaming and dvds). When I finally signed up for Movie Pass in October 2015 I was psyched. The opportunity to review movies for The Packie came up at the same time and I hoped I could get people excited about the movies that I saw as well by reviewing the films I’d seen. I am certain I have failed at getting anyone excited a large portion of the time.
For those of you who don’t know what movie pass is, basically you pay one flat fee per month and you can see a movie in theaters every day. While I was a member the base rate for Boston was $35 but I opted to pay $40/ month for the added bonus of being able to see 3D and IMAX movies in AMC Theaters (which was not available in all areas). (Note that prices and options have changed.)
There are some big asterisks with subscription you see. You had sign up for a year, if you cancel early there are huge cancellation fees. You can only see the same movie once. You can only use the pass in the theaters that they say you are allowed to go to. (Many of the theaters closest to my house, including some of my favorite small theaters that would show independent films were not included.) You had to wait 24 hours before you saw your next movie, which sucked but all it took was a bit more planning.
The reason I am no longer a member is because things have changed. They got a new CEO and they claim they are trying some experiments with some customers to see what they are willing put up with.
In reality I would imagine I am just a number in some excel spreadsheet to and they decided to eliminate my membership because I was costing them too much money.
The pass I was paying $40 per month for was going to change for me. I was given 3 options:
- Pay $99 a month for what I had been paying $40 a month for up to this point.
- Pay $40 a month for a maximum of 6 2D movies.
- Leave without a cancellation fee.
If I were not already a customer, both option 1 and 2 may seem reasonable considering the value one could get from it for the amount paid in but since I already was a customer, it felt like I was betrayed, especially once I learned that I was basically singled out for this. You see, not all members were being given this ultimatum.
Before movie pass I didn’t really go to the theaters that often. Maybe 6 times a year? Sure I love movies. Also:
- I don’t like other people. People are annoying and in the way. People talk in theaters, use their phones, or are a crying baby.
- I don’t like to be advertised to. I don’t have cable, I just watch things on Netflix so I can avoid commercials. (Which is why I never signed up for Hulu, even if you pay you have to watch the commercials!) Previews for upcoming movies are just commercials for other movies. There have been times in the theater when I have had to wait for literally 29 minutes after the posted start time of the movie before the movie began.
- I can be patient when it comes to movies. If I see something I would like to see I would put it in my Netflix DVD cue and once it came out I would get around to it. Sure if it was something that I thought might be worth it on a big screen I would go, but very few movies are worth it. I don’t watch TV with everyone else. I’m not in on the conversations about the hot new shows. I watch them when I feel like it and I enjoy them later.
- I’m cheap. Movie tickets are expensive. Every time my wife would come with me to the movies she would buy popcorn and maybe a drink too. She would come with me anywhere from 2-5 times per month. That adds up. The cost of movie tickets adds up.
- MOST MOVIES RELEASED IN MAINSTREAM THEATERS ARE GARBAGE
The biggest problem I had with Movie Pass (and the biggest reason I am done with my subscription): Most of the movies I saw were not good. I just spent some time going through all the movies I reviewed for this site, and I have to say, I am disappointed. Most of what I saw was crap. Not to mention the fact that I still skipped a lot of crap that I didn’t think was worth my time. A lot of the movies I saw with the pass I would never have wasted my time on but I wanted to get my money’s worth. I had this thing in my head where if I wasn’t seeing a movie I was losing money. In reality all I had to see was 3-4 per month in order to cover my costs but I for sure saw at least 2 movies per week.
That being said, I’ve learned a thing or two.
- AMC theater movies that start before noon (usually only weekend days, more often during the summer) are like $6.
- Capitol theater in Arlington has some very reasonable matinee prices.
- In my opinion IMAX and 3D are NOT WORTH IT. If you want a the screen to appear bigger…sit closer to the screen.
The Lux in Brookline and the Showcase in Dedham are among the closest to my house but not a part of my plan. Kendall and Coolidge have the great independent movies I would want to see but are not a part of my plan. The Brattle is the best, shows old movies and great new indies, not a part of my plan. Back when I paid for movies these are the main theaters I would frequent.
One time I reached out to Coolidge Corner to ask them why they didn’t take movie pass. Their respectful and well worded response included the phrase ” I have read consumer reports and customer complaints from people who signed up with them and made frequent use of their membership, to then be informed that as “heavy users” their rates were being raised…” and of course I thought to myself “they would never do that to me. Movie Pass is a company I trust.”
In the end I would say Movie Pass was a waste of my time. Most of the mainstream movies released in all the theaters are drivel for the masses.
I would not recommend Movie Pass. If I had cancelled the pass on my own I would have been slapped with a huge cancellation fee. This was like having an a girlfriend who was no good for me, break up with me. I didn’t have to make the decision, they made it for me. They got something like $320 from me. It was a fun ride while it lasted but I’m glad to be done.
It hasn’t been all bad. It was fun while it lasted and I did see some good films.
Some of my favorite movies I’ve in theaters with movie pass:
- The Lobster
- Green Room
- Son of Saul
- The Revenant
- Star Wars The Force Awakens
- Hateful 8
I have seen 3 movies since I ended my pass. Jason Bourne 4/5. (AMC matinee $6.) Suicide Squad 2/5. (Free tickets from my sell phone company) Captain Fantastic 4/5. (Dedham Community Theater Wednesday matinee $8)
Follow Steven on Twitter@StevenRichardK.