MoviePass is making a comeback, and we’ve learned some more details about the latest incarnation of the cinema subscription service. Cofounder Stacy Spikes, who is back at the helm, says MoviePass 2.0 is being built on a Web3 framework and will have a kind of virtual currency.
Members will have credits they can use for tickets for themselves and friends. Unused credits will roll over to the next month and you’ll be able to transfer them to other people. There will be tiered plans, but Spikes didn’t divulge pricing
The new MoviePass app will show you how many credits you have and available screenings at theaters. Credits will work differently during peak and off-peak times — a Friday or Saturday showing might cost more credits. You’ll be able to reserve specific seats at some of MoviePass’ partner theaters.
Spikes said there’ll be ways for people to earn credits through the app via a “preshow experience.” In other words, watching ads. To make sure you’re actually watching them, the app will employ facial recognition and eye tracking. Yikes.
He explains that with the new version of MoviePass, you can watch ads to earn credits that can go toward free movies. Your phone camera will track your eyeballs to make sure you’re actually watching. “What it does is it basically creates a transaction between you and the brand.” pic.twitter.com/Lip0CDXPLT
— Theo Wayt (@theo_wayt) February 10, 2022
MoviePass is also opening up a portion of the company for equity investment. Those who take a stake in will receive benefits, such as a lifetime membership.
If 30 percent of moviegoers become subscribers, the company “could double the annual revenue and attendance of the overall movie industry,” Spikes said, though he noted that’s a moonshot target. He added that many subscribers of the previous service checked out movies they otherwise might not have gambled on because impulsive movie-watching decisions didn’t cost them anything extra.
Spikes and Hamet Watt founded MoviePass in 2011 to offer users a certain number of movie tickets every month as part of a subscription. HMNY bought the company in 2017 and, soon after, changed the pricing model to allow members to see one movie in theaters a day for $10 per month. Although the service blew up and had more than 3 million subscribers at its peak, the business model was unsustainable. MoviePass ultimately declared bankruptcy in January 2020.
Spikes regained ownership of MoviePass in November. He said he bid less than $250,000 for the assets. However, they didn’t include customer email addresses or other data, so MoviePass is starting over almost from scratch.
It’ll be interesting to see if Moviepass can carve out a place for itself in a cinema landscape that’s changed dramatically in recent years. Chains like Regal Cinemas, AMC and Alamo Drafthouse have established their own subscription plans.
Theaters have struggled over the last couple of years, with the pandemic forcing many to at least temporarily close their doors. But a Web3-based service with a virtual currency and facial recognition component might not be the lifeboat these chains, or their patrons, are looking for.