AMC is looking to take legal action to ban MoviePass at its theaters, but why?

Can a Netflix-style subscription for movie theaters work? MoviePass, a start-up that allows subscribers to watch movies in theaters for a ...

Can a Netflix-style subscription for movie theaters work?

MoviePass, a start-up that allows subscribers to watch movies in theaters for a flat monthly fee, set the Internet afire on Tuesday when it announced it would be slashing its subscription cost down to an absurd $9.95 per month.

In case you missed it, MoviePass’ revised subscription lets you watch one movie per day in virtually any theater in the US. For dedicated movie buffs, that could translate to 31 showings a month – all for less than 10 bucks. What a deal!

New majority stake owners Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc. have a plan to monetize the program – selling your viewing habits to the highest bidder – but it’s a long-term play. In the interim, the prospects of MoviePass making any money seem slim.

For those stoked about the subscription offering, reality now appears to be setting in.

AMC Theatres, the largest theater operator in the US, on Tuesday evening said it is concerned that MoviePass’ announcement is not in the best interest of moviegoers, movie theaters and movie studios. The chain contends that MoviePass’ price is unsustainable and only sets up consumers for ultimate disappointment down the road if or when the product fails.

As such, AMC is consulting with its attorneys to determine if or how it can prevent MoviePass’ subscription program from being used at its theaters.

Remember – MoviePass said it will pay theaters the full price of each ticket used by subscribers. If that is indeed true and MoviePass can deliver on that promise, why in the world would AMC push back against a program that would put more butts in its seats?

AMC added that it believes that promising what essentially amounts to unlimited first-run movie content below $10 per month will not provide sufficient revenue to operate quality theaters nor will it produce enough income to provide filmmakers with sufficient incentive to make great new movies.

Again, they – and every other theater – would be getting full price for each ticket. This means that nothing would change for them or filmmakers except that maybe more people would be visiting theaters and spending money on expensive concessions.

People aren't going to be mad at AMC if MoviePass fails (well, they might be now). As best I can see it (and I'm not even a movie buff), it's none of AMC's concern what MoviePass does or offers as long as they are getting paid full price for tickets. Why does AMC feel it is their job to police MoviePass?

I’ll agree with AMC that the concept is a stretch. Heck, I’ll even go out on a limb and say that it’ll probably fail lover the long haul (assuming it can get off the ground at all). But, the same could have been said about other all-you-can-eat, on-demand services like Netflix and Spotify. Who would have guessed in the days of Blockbuster and record stores that movies, TV shows and music would one day be “given away” for less than the cost of a meal at a fast food joint?

Please, feel free to share your opinion on this development (argue AMC's stance) in the comments section below as I'm seriously struggling on this one.

Images courtesy AMC, ArtsQuest and Best Business Template


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