MoviePass, the movie theater ticket service that skyrocketed to popularity in 2017 and spiraled into bankruptcy protection two years later. MoviePass’s co-founder Stacy Spikes is hoping for an encore. Last week, Spikes bought the once-thriving company from bankruptcy last week with yet-undisclosed plans to relaunch the venture.
MoviePass got its start in 2011 as a purveyor of flick tix, offering everything but the popcorn to moviegoers who psid $50 a month – later dropped to $10 — for a subscription to a service that allowed them unlimited access to movie titles. (During its years of operation, a wide variety of pricing plans and options were available, leading to the charge that the service was too cumbersome for consumers). By slashing its fees, MoviePass was banking on the hope that a larger subscriber base would give it considerable leverage in negotiating terms with film studios and distributors. Within two years, however, the deal proved unsustainable and the company was forced into bankruptcy.
In announcing the company’s resuscitation last week, Spikes told Insider: “I can confirm that we acquired MoviePass out of bankruptcy on Wednesday. We are thrilled to have it back and are exploring the possibility of relaunching soon. Our pursuit to reclaim the brand was encouraged by the continued interest from the moviegoing community. We believe, if done properly, theatrical subscription can play an instrumental role in lifting moviegoing attendance to new heights.”
Details about Spikes’s purchase remain sketchy, though some industry sources are reporting he spent less than the $250,000 minimum asking price sought last year during a bankruptcy auction by Helios and Matheson, MoviePass’s parent company, which had estimated the service’s valuation at between $1 and $10 million.
As audiences return to theaters after the pandemic, it remains to be seen whether MoviePass’s new incarnation will significantly alter the ticketing process and return a profit to its investors. The scheme already faces competition from similar ventures by theater chains such a AMC (Stubs A-List), Regal (Unlimited) and Alamo Drafthouse (Season Pass), and there is some speculation that audiences might increasingly prefer to watch their movies at home.
Then again, lockdown-weary folks may prefer the century-old practice of queuing up in person for their Saturday night flicks fix. Stay tuned.