My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved

by Natasha Greeves
February 25, 2013 11:59 AM
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This assignment couldn’t have come at a better time.  It was Oscar season and I had only seen half of the films that were expected to be nominated.  I was elated and couldn’t wait to get started.  I started by making a list of films that I hadn’t seen and I was set to go.  

It should be noted that while I was gathering my thoughts and organizing my overall experience Sergio wrote a piece outlining the history of the pass and the many changes from its beginnings.  You can check that out Here.  Even as I write this MoviePass may have changed some of its policies but I will tell you about my month long use of the pass and highlight any changes that have been made already to the process that I know of.

Prior to this assignment a couple of friends had told me about the monthly subscription service that allowed them to see as many movies as they wanted.  Intrigued I had visited the site to investigate myself.  When I arrived at the site you have to sign-up to request an invitation.  You can do so via facebook or your email and zip code.  Before you request the invitation you cannot access any information about the subscription service.   Even after submitting the information you informed that you are on a waitlist for an invitation and you're still not privy to any details; cost, rules, or even if they operate in your area.  Eventually I received an invite via email but this assignment came along so I didn’t proceed further with the process on my own.

My invitation came as a gift, for this assignment, so I did not go through the process of officially signing up like the average consumer would.  I received an email alerting me to my gift with instructions to click through to claim my month long pass.  You provide your pertinent information and then you wait.  I signed up December 24 and received a package in the mail from Moviepass on January 3.  I can’t be sure if the timing of the package is typical of the service or if the holidays played a part.  

If you can give points for presentation MoviePass could earn a few.  Inside the package was a black box with the MoviePass on its top in silver lettering.  Upon opening the box your movie pass; which is basically a credit card, is attached to the cover on velvet like fabric with your guide folded up in the bottom.  You are instructed to sign your card, review cardholder information and download the mobile app.   During my trial they did not have an app for android phones so I had to use the internet on my phone to use the service.  

Once on the site and signed in I can choose a film by name or by theater.  You can search but  this option only appeared available on the home page.  This is worth nothing because one may have to search if the film you are trying to see is older.  Many of the films I was interested in seeing had been out in theaters for quite a while.  All the popular and new releases were easy to locate.  

You chose your film to “reserve” your ticket.  Upon choosing your film you have to go to the theater.  Upon arriving at the theater you have to go back to the site to “check-in.”  The site literally ascertains your location giving to give you the okay to purchase tickets.  Upon checking in you have thirty minutes to purchase your ticket.  You do so like you would any other ticket and run your MoviePass; to purchase.

Now that we have gone through the basics I will provide my thoughts on my experience.   I was a bit disappointed in the age of the Internet that it was necessary to wait for the pass to arrive to start seeing films.  I kept thinking there must be another way.  

Upon arrival activating the card was difficult because use of the website on my android phone was problematic.  (While an app existed for iphone they had not till recently launched an app for android phones.)   Eventually, I gave up activating on my phone and used my computer instead.  Technical issues throughout the trial would plague me.  Nearly every time I went to see a film there was some sort of glitch I had to overcome.  Eventually, in all cases I was able to work through it and see the film I wanted to see.

MoviePass alerted me via email  about potential problems using my MoviePass at kiosks and to see a ticket agent instead.  This information was helpful but when I arrived at the window the ticket agent had no idea the pass existed.  I explained to her how it worked and she ran the card as she would a credit card and I was able to purchase my tickets.  She then further asked me questions about the pass.  

During my use I felt like I was learning the rules as I went along.  I had a pretty lengthy list of films and was planning to see them on the weekend because that was the best time for me.  So I decided to see a double feature.  After all I can see as many movies as I want right?  Well, you can see as many movies you want but one day at a time.  You are only aloud to see one movie a day on the pass.  I went back to review to see if maybe I had missed this rule, if it was detailed on the site it wasn’t clearly displayed.  No 3D films can be seen with MoviePass either, but that was clearly stated.  Sergio’s piece mentioned an additional fee, but that option doesn’t appear to be available anymore.  3D films were unable to be reserved via the website I was using.

MoviePass has a customer service chat option to handle problems.  But the individuals I chatted with could never help me directly.  Instead they got an understanding of my problem and submitted an inquiry and provided me with a case number.   I was told each time they would get back to me by Monday.  Which in turn resulted in my not being able to use the pass during the rest of the weekend.  My guess is that these folks are operating on a typical Monday to Friday work week.  But most films make their money over the weekends so consumers would be better served if they could resolve issues more promptly.  Another major problem I had was that my month long trial started when I claimed my gift instead of when I activated my card and my card was deactivated.  I submitted an inquiry via the chat on a Sunday.  On Tuesday, they got back to me and told me my issue had been resolved via email and that my pass ended  after the upcoming weekend.  But their mistake resulted in a loss of the possibility to see films  over a weekend and they did not offer to compensate for the mistake.  I received my response via email so I did not ask.  The subscription was reactivated  for the week, but I found out in transit that my MoviePass needed to be reactivated.  I had the same problem as I did in the beginning trying to activate the card on my phone.  And thus I ended my MoviePass experience frustrated.

Overall , I would say if you are a person or you know a person who often goes to the movies the MoviePass is for you.  I saw enough films during my trial to make the pass worth the monthly fee, even with the films that I missed due to lack of knowledge of rules and technical difficulties.  That being said MoviePass really needs to revamp customer service, or put in place some sort of system to somehow make-up for lost time due to technical difficulties.  Hopefully the new Android App addresses many of the technical difficulties I had.

I was satisfied with the number of theaters participating in MoviePass.  I was always able to find a theater showing the films I wanted to see and to see films at the theaters I prefer.  I am sure this will vary from place to place.

Technical difficulties really colored my experience but when MoviePass worked it was a great experience.  If they address the technical issues I would recommend the service to friends and colleagues.

Has anyone else used MoviePass?  What was your experience?  

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  • Georgina Washington | January 5, 2014 1:03 PMReply

    Let me give everyone a few tips that will make your MoviePass experience much better.
    One, unless you are going to a one screen theatre or a theatre that has a ticket taker in front of every individual screen entrance, the 24 hour thing is not an issue. Just buy a ticket to a later movie that is 24 hours out and then just go see the movie you want to see.
    I go to see movies at least twice a week and I have traveled all over this country going to theatres and watching movies and I have never been to a multiple screen theatre in which I can not walk in to any movie I want to see. Pretty much once they have your money and you get through the door, they really could care less where you go.
    Two, this also works wonderfully for the Imax and 3-D movies and even unadvertised special screenings. Buy a ticket to any movie and go to see the one you actually want to see. I know you say, what about the glasses? Either bring your own (I do) or they have these great big vats of them for recycle, grab a pair, go clean them in the restroom (come on, how dirty can they be and you are not putting them in your mouth) and you are set.
    Three, want to see a movie a second time? Again, same process, buy a ticket to that Tyler Perry Madea movie that you would never see unless someone paid you good money and go see Wolf of Wall Street again. I am sure Tyler thanks you.
    OK, I know, some of you may want to discuss the moral implications. Yes, 100% you are occasionally “stealing” a movie and the distributor, etc. losses a dollar or two off you. Yes, 100% you are “stealing” the 3-D or IMax upgrade again, theoretically costing someone a couple of dollars. This for me, is not an issue, I am fully aware of what I am doing and I simply do not care, no rationalizations (though I can make them and will, just keep reading), I am gaming the system to my benefit and I sleep just fine at night.
    Rationalizations, for the fun of it, one, the theatre does not care, I am a regular, they see me 2 or 3 times a week and I usually buy concessions, they are happy I am a happy customer and keep spending money with them. Without MoviePass, they make much less money off me, ticket prices are crazy these days plus I usually go when the theatre is the least busy.
    Two, the movies I really want to see, the ones I would actually pay for will always get their money. Whether I buy the ticket for Captain Philips and go see Captain Philips or buy a Captain Philips ticket to go see something else, I always make sure I end up buying a ticket for the movies I would have paid for if I did not have MoviePass. I simply do not care about the people that made and distribute some crappy horror movie I go to see because its the only thing at a certain time and I have a couple of hours to blow and I see it by buying a Captain Philips ticket. I would have never, ever, taken money out of my pocket to go see the movie and I probably do not even watch the movie on cable. Plus, I might end up liking the movie and then I become Mr Word of Mouth.
    Last but not least, do I care about MoviePass? No, because they do not show that they care about us. Having crazy terms, crazy cancellation fees and then changing those terms in the middle of contracts (24 hour thing, etc) shows me these guys are sleazeballs, like the people that run gyms (I have known a few, they revel in being sleazeballs. One guy told me he is not in the business of running a gym, he is in the business of selling memberships and then suing people for the dues) and if they are going to game me, I am going to game them right back. Again, does this make it right? Of course not, but do I care? Of course not, I sleep just fine at night.

  • Tori | February 26, 2013 11:59 AMReply

    Thanks for writing about your experiences with MoviePass. I don't know many people that have it.

    I signed up and received my MoviePass late last year. So far, so good. I haven't had any technical problems with it at all, though I've heard people have had them. I have an iPhone and the activate, check-in, buy ticket protocol has been pretty smooth. It's worked at both the kiosk and the ticket box office for me. Like you, I have been a little frustrated that at times, the theater near my house doesn't have all the movies playing available to watch with the pass. It's an independent theater that shows both indie and mainstream films. Usually, the smaller indie movies aren't accessible. What I've done in the past, though, (just once) is check in to a movie that IS accessible with the pass. That puts the right value on the card, and when I go to pay for the actual movie I want to see, the charge goes right through. Now, the downside to that is I've now checked into a movie I may or may not have seen already. But then I cross that next bridge when I come to it. It's silly work around, but a workaround nonetheless.

    The only major downside I've found with it so far is that I have the card. My roommate/best-friend/sister doesn't. We don't work together so we basically hang out together whenever we have a spare minute. The fact that she doesn't have the pass and can't just spend money at the movies willy-nilly, like I basically can, really hurts my opportunities to go to the movies and use my pass. I imagine it's the same for a live-in couple. If she did get one, though, we'd probably be seeing a few movies a week. Well worth the cost.

  • Raymond | February 25, 2013 10:46 PMReply

    I like MoviePass. I've been using it for the past 2 months and even though their customer service and lack of clearly stated rules is often sketchy, I find it to be worth the money. What I do not like is what I just realized this past weekend, that not only does MoviePass only work at certain theaters, but also only for certain movies within that theater. Being the serious film fan that I am, I opted to see Snitch this past weekend, only to find out that MoviePass only covered snitch at AMC theaters but not Regal. I tried for a while to find out if they had an explanation for this somewhere and could not find any. Thus I ended up catching Silver Linings Playbook, which while quite amazing in its own way, is no Snitch. As much as I like MoviePass (and will continue using it) there's too much of a "learn as you go" feeling about it.

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