Comparing AMC’s New Subscription Plan to MoviePass
Late last year, I told you about the seemingly too good to be true subscription service called MoviePass. Pay $9.95 a month, go see as many movies as you want. I had seen over 20 movies that year virtually for free, once you calculated cost of tickets vs cost of the monthly plan. The reason it was seemingly too good to be true, is that over the past six months, the cracks have started to show in their support structure, and they may not be around much longer.
MoviePass operates completely independent of any movie theater chain or film distributor. They have no backing other than investors, and their stock has plummeted from $36 to $0.33 in the past several months. They don't get kickbacks from anyone, which I think they were counting on. And now they've resorted to selling off bonds in an attempt to raise funds.
Enter AMC Theatres, the largest movie exhibitor in the world. AMC recently announced their own ticket subscription service, that on the surface doesn't look to be a better deal, costing twice as much. However, stacked against MoviePass, the perks are much nicer, with fewer hoops to jump through, and since it's wholly owned by, again, the largest movie exhibitor in the world, there isn't that worry of becoming completely insolvent within a month or two. So let's break it down.
MoviePass is $9.95 per month, while AMC's Stubs A-List is set to be $19.95. Obviously at first glance, MoviePass is going to be your pick, right? Well, MoviePass just announced what they're calling "surge-pricing" on popular movies during opening weekend starting in July. For an up-charge, you can go see what the app deems to be a popular movie for an additional $2+ fee. Now it doesn't start till next week, but let's say you want to go to opening weekend of Jurassic World this weekend... that's an up-charge. New Marvel film? Up-charge. During the summer months and into November and December when we're seeing a lot of blockbusters, those up-charges will add up. Not to mention premium screening fees and bring-a-friend fees we'll discuss below.
How Many Movies Can You See
With MoviePass, you can see one movie every day for the entire month. Stubs A-List will be three films per week, with the week running Friday to Thursday. You can see them all in one day if you want to, or spread it out. MoviePass is a good option if you're in St. Louis or Chicago where the AMCs have 24 screens with all the movies showing. But here in Quincy? We're lucky if we even get three new films per week, so it's kind of a moot point. I think for now.
What Movies Can You See
With MoviePass, you can only see standard 2D releases, you have to buy tickets day of at the box office, and you can only see a movie once with the program. With A-List, you'll have full access to all formats of film presented at any AMC (so if you find yourself wanting to catch an IMAX in Chicago, you're all set). MoviePass has announced they will start incorporating 3D, IMAX and other premium formats to their slate of options, but that will come with an up-charge.
As of right now, MoviePass has none, other than the free movie tickets. AMC's Stubs A-List is tied to your Stubs account (the AMC loyalty program, which I am of course a member of). You won't earn points on the tickets purchased through the program, but you will earn points on the monthly charge, at 100 points per $1 spent. Add that to points earned at the concession stand, you could rack up the points. MoviePass also recently introduced a verification system where you have to take a picture of your ticket stub each time you go to the movies, otherwise you'll be locked out of your service. A-List is tied to your Stubs Account, so you'll always have verification right there. Just make sure you bring a photo ID.
Movie Date Night
Neither MoviePass or Stubs A-List offer a bring a friend option... yet. I say yet, because MoviePass will introduce this option towards the end of the summer, and that will come with an up-charge. With A-List, you can buy a separate ticket for your friend or date, and earn Stubs points for it. So that's something. No word on if A-List is exploring that as an option.
MoviePass seems like the better deal. You can use it at any theatre that accepts (which may drop sharply if AMC's A-List takes off), and costs less. But if you only ever hit the local AMCs for your movie going, the perks and benefits of A-List outweigh the additional monthly cost, especially when taking into consideration all the additional surcharges MoviePass is adding, to make no mention of the financial stability of AMC vs MoviePass. There are just too many questions about MoviePass's future to make it worth sticking with, even if at face value it's $10 cheaper.
Final verdict: I'm switching to AMC Stubs A-List. A full run down of which can be found on the AMC site, with link to a FAQ section.