updated 02:45 pm EDT, Sat July 2, 2011
MoviePass frozen as AMC says it had no consent
MoviePass' fledgling service and its Android and iOS apps were put at least temporarily on hold late this week after movie theater chain AMC balked at the idea. The rollout, which was to reach 21 of the chain's venues in the San Francisco Bay Area, didn't have the "knowledge or input" of AMC, its CMO Stephen Colanero told Variety. The executive didn't give a clue as to if or when it would come back and said that its current format didn't "integrate well into our programs."
The Independence Day weekend launch without AMC's awareness could have been dangerous for MoviePass. Many of the theaters had actively planned to turn customers down or would have had to get compensation from AMC. MoviePass was already paying the full movie ticket price and was going through Movietickets.com systems that they recognized, but they wouldn't have known how to handle individual passes.
Startup co-creator Stacy Spikes said she had taken the gamble since the company was looking for a proof-of-concept test that could lead to better deals. Theaters, much like studios deal with Netflix, are wary of anything that would reduce the perceived price of a ticket even if they get paid a similar amount.
The service as conceived so far would be a subscription that offers a discount on theater going, either giving the equivalent of a movie for free on a four-movie $30 plan or more on a $50 unlimited plan. It requires a smartphone to work since users buy from an Android or iOS device and check for a text message once they're at the theater.