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My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service)

by Natasha Greeves
May 29, 2014 4:57 PM
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This assignment couldn’t have come at a better time.  It was around 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.  

A piece outlining the history of the pass and the many changes from its beginnings was previously detailed on this site. Even as I write this, MoviePass may have changed some of its policies since I tried it. But I will tell you about my month-long use of the pass.

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 visited the site to investigate myself.  When I arrived at the site I had to sign up to request an invitation.  You can do so via facebook, or with 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 are informed that you are on a wait list for an invitation, and you're still not privy to any details; like 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 "MoviePass" on its top in silver lettering.  Upon opening the box, your movie pass - which is basically in the shape of a credit card - is attached to the cover on velvet like fabric, with your guide folded up at 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 could choose a film by name or by theater.  You could search, but this option only appeared available on the home page.  This is worth noting 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 choose your film to “reserve” your ticket.  After doing so, you then head to the theater.  Upon arriving at the theater, I had to go back to the site on my mobile device to “check-in.”  The site literally ascertains your location, giving 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, having your MoviePass scanned to purchase.

Now that we have gone through the basics, I will provide my thoughts on my own experience.

I was a bit disappointed that, in the age of the Internet, it was necessary to wait for the pass to arrive in the mail, before I could start using it to see films.  I kept thinking that there must be some other way to handle that part of the process.  

Upon arrival, activating the card was difficult, because use of the website on my android phone was problematic (While an app existed for the iphone, they had not, until after I had already gone through my month-long use of the service, launched an app for android phones.)   

Eventually, I gave up activating on my phone, and used my computer instead.  

Technical issues throughout the trial plagued 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 each problem, and saw the film I wanted to see.

There were instances when I tried using MoviePass, and I was alerted via email that there were problems using my MoviePass at kiosks, and I was instructed me to see a ticket agent instead.  This information was helpful, but, once, when I arrived at the ticket window, the ticket agent had no idea the pass existed.  I explained to her how it worked. She then ran the card as she would a credit card, and thankfully, I was able to purchase my tickets.  She then asked me further questions about the pass - something she should already know about.

When I first got the pass, I had a pretty lengthy list of films and was planning to see them all over the weekend, because that was the best time for me.  So, the first time, I decided to see a double feature; After all, I can see as many movies as I want to right?  Well, you can see as many movies as 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. But it wasn’t clearly displayed. Also, no 3D films could be seen with the MoviePass either, but at least, that was clearly stated.  There was initially mention an additional fee necessary to see 3D films, but that option doesn’t appear to be available anymore.  3D films were unable to be reserved via the website I was using.

During my use, I really felt like I was learning the rules as I went along, despite initial explanations from the service itself. 

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 to another party, and provided me with a case number.  I was told each time that they would get back to me on whatever the next weekday was, which in turn resulted in my not being able to use the pass during the rest of whatever weekend I made the inquiry.  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 when they need to - even if it's on a weekend. 

Another major problem I had was that my month-long trial started when I claimed my gift, instead of when I activated my card. It's a problem because during the time I waited to receive the card in the mail, I couldn't use the service. I didn't find this out until when my card was deactivated, which seemed earlier than I thought. I submitted an inquiry via the website chat on a Sunday. But they didn't get back to me until the following Tuesday, doing so via email, and told me my issue had been resolved, and that my pass had already expired. That obviously resulted in a loss of the possibility to see films over that weekend (before the pass expired), and they did not immediately offer to compensate for the mistake. They did eventually reactivate my subscription for another week, but I had to go through the same problems as I did in the beginning, trying to reactivate the card on my phone, which was frustrating.

Overall, I would say, if you are a person, or you know a person who often goes to the movies, then 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 a lack of knowledge of rules and technical difficulties. 

That being said MoviePass really needs to revamp its 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 and customer service issues, I would recommend the service to friends and colleagues.

Has anyone else used MoviePass?  What was your experience?  

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  • moviechick | July 29, 2014 12:55 AMReply

    I'm pretty sure the first posted replies here were from the MoviePass street-team level staff, who relentlessly cheer the program without acknowledging any of the complaints users have. Here's my scoop on it after a year: you could end up saving money, but the one-movie-every-24 hours is a pain, if you're someone who sees movies two days in a row. For example: if you choose to see a movie on Friday night, you're screwed if you also have a Saturday matinee planned. In more gory detail, let's say you see a movie at 7:30pm Friday night and figure you can still see one 7:45pm Saturday. Yeah, technically, that'll work, but the app won't activate the card until 7:31pm, so if you're like me and try to get there early for seats and snacks, it'll be tight.

    Other cons: app is not covered at smaller theater chains (no Regency, or Arclight, for example), the times aren't always accurate, and when the app occasionally glitches, you have to call customer service old-school style.

    The pros: if you know you can see movies every other day, it covers the theaters in your area, and your phone's data connection is flawless, you really can save money.

    That said, the headache of when it doesn't work, or when you have plans that don't jibe with the 24 hour clock thing, are major downers. The early cancellation fee if you decide you want out before one year is something to pay attention to, also.

  • Kay | June 9, 2014 3:33 AMReply

    I have Moviepass and I've had it for about a year now. Also and IPhone user, so not many technical problems, but as a person that sees a lot of movies it is definitely worth the price. It is not without it's faults, but I definitely think the challenges are going to be specific to the user. The specific problems that I have run in to: purchasing a ticket to a movie that is sold out. There is a button that you can click to say the movie was sold out, but in my experience two things happened. I couldn't buy a ticket for a different movie that day, and I couldn't see the sold out movie the next day. It was a bit annoying and inconvenient because I was in a group (so I couldn't just leave) and had to pay cash for my ticket when I pay for this service, and the next day the app kept saying I already saw the movie, which I never did. My biggest pet peeve is that you can only see each movie once. Why do they care how many times I see the same movie as long as it is only one per day, and that stupid time clock. You have to wait at least 24 hours from the last movie to see another. Again, who cares what time I go as long as it is only once per day? The little irks are not enough to make me cancel the service, but it is something they should reconsider.

  • Ryan | May 29, 2014 11:37 PMReply

    When I first heard about this a couple years ago, it sounded like a strange idea. I also got an invitation and they've been hounding me ever since to sign up. But I see a lot of films and if I had even half the issues noted in this article, I'd cancel my subscription in disgust. I have no time for that. The biggest issue I had with them is the one movie per-day rule. I see a ton of movies in theaters and so ideally a subscription service sounds awesome. But what's the purpose of a subscription-based service if it's not unlimited?

    I do agree with the comment below regarding the writing of this article. The article is terribly written and by the time I got to "aloud", I couldn't help but chuckle. I expect more professionalism in the writing from a site like Indiewire (forget typos and grammatical errors, how about articulating your points in a more effective way).

  • Cannot Disagree More | May 29, 2014 10:26 PMReply

    This review does not represent my experience at all. I think author may just not be the kind of person who reads instructions or do research before going after something, which obviously makes one prone to problems. I have never had these many problems with moviepass (disclaimer: I'm an iphone user) and their customer service staff has been very helpful and efficient whenever I run into a problem, which happens rarely. I think Moviepass is not only a wonderful money-saving tool for the movie-lovers but could also potentially revive movie theaters and revolutionize our theater-going experiences. To focus on those trivial annoyances that are very specific to the author is not doing Moviepass justice on the larger scale. And really? "You are only ALOUD to see"? Please proofread your articles, Indiewire editors.

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