Saturday, September 14, 2019

R.I.P. MoviePass 2011-2019 (Absolutely, Positively The End This Time)

Longtime readers of Bob Canada's Blogworld know all about my combative relationship last year with beleaguered film subscription service MoviePass. In case you missed them, you can read my posts about the company here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

To refresh your memory: I signed up for MoviePass in May of 2018. It was awesome for the first two months, as I saw a ton of movies on their dime. It was too good to be true though, as the company quickly began hemorrhaging money. In order to survive, they began imposing a series of increasing Draconian restrictions on the card that literally made it impossible to use. I wasn't about to pay ten bucks a month for nothing, so I canceled at the end of October 2018.

Honestly I didn't give them a second thought after that, and pretty much forgot all about them. They pretty much disappeared from the news as well.

Then in July of this year, MoviePass announced that they were "going dark" for a few weeks while they overhauled the functionality of their mobile app (???). Who the hell does that? Can you imagine if utility companies, groceries and hospitals closed down for a month for server maintenance? You work on crap like that behind the scenes and update it on the weekend. You don't shut down your goddamned business. 

I didn't believe their lame "mobile app" story for a second, and predicted that the company would be out of business by the end of the month.

Welp, it took a little longer than a month, but turns out I was right. On September 14, 2019, MoviePass officially shut down.

According to parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics, they chose to shut down the service because "their efforts to recapitalize MoviePass have not been successful to date." Yeah, that's because it was a business that constantly paid out more than it took in. You don't need to be a financial expert to understand that can't work.

MoviePass basically operated on the gym business model: Get as many people as possible to pay for a membership, then hope 90% of them never use it.

Helios is reportedly putting the company up for sale in its entirety. What company? What the hell is there to buy? They produced no tangible product, and the entire company likely consisted of a dozen people in an office. They might have had a server that stored all the account info, so I guess they could sell that off. Maybe a few desks, chairs and phones. But that'd be about it!

They're also looking to sell MoviePass Films, the studio which brought us the hit 2018 cinematic masterpiece Gotti. You know, the film starring John Travolta, that scored 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, cost $10 million to make and earned a whopping $4 million at the box office. That Gotti.

This particular endeavor is a perfect example of MoviePass' brilliant decision making. They bankrolled a movie and released it theatrically. But they reimbursed theaters whenever someone used their service. That means they literally paid people to go see the movie they made! Is it any wonder we're discussing their demise?

I'm actually a bit torn over the news of the death of MoviePass. On the one hand, I'm not the least bit surprised as I knew it would eventually happen. But a part of me's a little sad to see them go. I saw a lot of movies on their dime films I probably wouldn't have seen if I'd had to pay full price.

MoviePass was an awesome concept in theory. It's just too bad it was impossible in reality.

R.I.P. MoviePass 2011-2019.

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