MoviePass Review: The Answer for Modern Moviegoers?

For less than $10 a month, you can watch one movie in the theater per day; is it too good to be true?

Watching a movie at home just isn’t the same as going out to the theater. There’s something magical about the movie theater experience that can’t be denied. Maybe it’s the human fellowship that we crave or that classic movie popcorn, or maybe it’s just being able to kick back in those absurdly lavish theater seats. Whatever it is, it’s here to stay, despite the best efforts of streaming companies like Netflix.

That doesn’t mean that box office ticket purchases haven’t seen a steady decline in recent years. It's not always easy to motivate yourself to swap those sweatpants for jeans, or shell out all that cash for movie tickets and snacks.

That's where MoviePass comes into play. This app is trying to fix the problem of costly movie theater tickets for those who love all things cinema, promising users the ability to go to as many movies as they want for less than $10 a month. I recently had the chance to experience MoviePass, and I promise you’ll want to hang around for the verdict on this one.

How It Works (And Doesn’t)

It’s really rather simple — you download the MoviePass app on your phone, sign up, pay $9.95, and wait for your MoviePass card to arrive. When it does arrive (sporting the MasterCard logo,) you sign it, snatch up your phone, and start browsing. You can watch any regular 2D movie once a day for an entire month. They cover more than 4,000 theaters across the country and there are no blackout dates — you can even see the latest blockbusters on opening night.

Once you've selected the theater, movie and time, head out to your local movie theater and break out the app again. You need to “Check In,” not only to activate the card for the first time, but also to activate it every time in preparation for your ticket purchase. You have to be within 100 yards of the theater to “Check In,” and you have 30 minutes to buy your ticket after you’ve done so.

Sounds easy in theory. But in practice? MoviePass stumbled in its execution. I purchased my MoviePass card on Aug. 25 and received a notification saying that it would be in my mailbox within five days. Unfortunately, it seemed that everyone and their three aunts also purchased their MoviePass card around the same time. The cards were backlogged for several weeks, and I couldn’t use my MoviePass app without the card. I finally received my card on the 23rd… of September.

I didn’t mind waiting, but as soon as I received my card, I ran out the door to one of the nearby theaters listed on the app. Once there, I handed my shiny red card to the gentleman behind the plexiglass prison with aplomb. It was almost immediately handed back as declined.

Declined? How in the world did I get declined? The clerk didn’t know anything about it, and so I slumped home, defeated. I reached out to MoviePass via the Contact messenger in their Help & Feedback section, and emailed their support email the next day since I didn’t receive a response.

Thankfully, a fellow MoviePass member was able to point me in the right direction. I didn’t know that I was supposed to “Check In” using the app prior to each ticket purchase — something that makes sense in retrospect, but that I didn’t know going into the process.

Round two. I visited another local theater and did the “Check In” process for the movie “IT” at 7:30 p.m. Sheepishly, I approached the ticket concierge. They swiped my card, noticed my trepidation, and commented that “As long as I had checked in, I should be fine.” My card worked, and the ticket was in my hands before I knew it. I asked the clerk if she had seen many of these cards already, and she said, “Oh, yes,” before remarking that she was learning along with us how it worked.

Update 10/9/17: Watch 3D and IMAX Movies with MoviePass... Sort of.

Through some deductive reasoning and personal experimentation, we've determined that the MoviePass app basically loads the exact amount for a 2D movie onto your MoviePass card when you check in, and it has no information on what happens after that, other than a transaction occurred.

This means that you can use MoviePass to cover most of the cost of a 3D or IMAX ticket.

Here's how: check in to a 2D movie on the app, then proceed to the box office to purchase a 3D or IMAX movie ticket. Ask the cashier to split the payment of the 3D or IMAX ticket into two portions: the equivalent price of a 2D ticket and the remaining balance. Charge the equivalent cost of a 2D ticket to the MoviePass card, then pay for the remaining balance with cash or another credit/debit card.

Voilà! You've now purchased a 3D or IMAX movie ticket for a slight up-charge while still utilizing the daily benefits of MoviePass.

Deal or No Deal?

MoviePass App

Clearly, MoviePass has already made a name for itself. My card was delayed because so many people had signed up at once, and the (second) movie ticket clerk knew what my card was before I said anything. And, honestly, how could it not be popular already? For $9.95, all the movies your heart desires for a month? That’s pretty incredible.

But the system behind MoviePass is still shaky. I never did receive a response from the MoviePass support team through the app messenger, nor through email. If I didn’t have another MoviePass user keeping me in the know, I wouldn’t be able to write anything about the app — I would still be waiting to find out how to use my card.

Despite this, the advantages are indisputable. The ticket I purchased for the showing of “IT” would have been $13.64, including tax, if I didn’t have my MoviePass card. Therefore, even if I only went to see one movie with MoviePass in an entire month, I would still be saving money. On top of that, the app interface itself was cleanly designed and a snap to use.

Overall? If you’re a cinephile, you need the MoviePass in your pocket. Even if you only visit the movie theater once or twice a month, having MoviePass activated will still save you money in the long run. Plus, as the company grows and matures, we expect questions posed to their Support Department will actually get answered — and in a timely manner.


Featured image and photography courtesy of MoviePass and Taryn Ziegler.

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About the Author
Taryn Ziegler Contributor

Taryn Ziegler is a localization writer working in the greater Seattle area. She graduated from the University of Washington Bothell and harbors a deep love for all things related to literature and indie gaming. She is happily married and owns altogether too many pets for her own good.

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