Movie Pass

Mary Gormandy White
happy moviegoers eating popcorn in cinema

If you're a fan of going to the movies, but could do without the high cost of admission, you'll be excited to learn about MoviePass! This app-based subscription service allows you to see movies in-person on as many days as you want for less than $10 per month.

How MoviePass Works

Billing itself as "America's largest theater network," MoviePass is a subscription service that provides subscribers with tickets to attend movies at select theaters throughout the United States. Subscribers can use the service to go to up to one regular showing (no 3D, IMAX® or other premium options) per day of any movie they want at any participating theater. There is no limit on the number of times you can go to the movies, and no additional fees for doing so. You will need to use the MoviePass app in combination with a special MoviePass debit card in order to go to the movies.

Great Entertainment Value

MoviePass costs only $9.95 on a monthly basis. You can further reduce the cost of your subscription buy pre-paying for a full year. You can purchase an annual subscription through Costco for just under $90 that also includes a year of access to the Fandor app. If you aren't a Costco member, you can still purchase your subscription this way, though you will have to pay a 5 percent upcharge at checkout.

For that fee, subscribers can go to up to one movie per day at any participating theater. Depending on the cost of movie tickets in your local area, you could get your money's worth if you go to just one movie per month a month. Of course, there are a few markets where movie tickets can be purchased for under $10 at certain showtimes, but tickets are more expensive in many places. Even if you live somewhere that a theater offers $5 matinees, you will still save money if you go twice per month. If you go to the theater more often, or if you would choose to do so if it didn't cost so much, the value is exponential.

Using Movie Pass

Once you subscribe to MoviePass, you will find it is simple to use.

  1. Wait for your MoviePass debit card to show up (it generally takes two to three weeks).
  2. Install the MoviePass app on your phone.
  3. Swipe through the available theaters in your area to see what is showing (the app will pinpoint your location and show you nearby theaters based on distance).
  4. Go to the theater of your choice prior to showtime (there is no specific timeframe - just show up as if you were purchasing your ticket the ordinary way).
  5. When you are within 100 yards of the theater, check in to the showtime of your choice via the app.
  6. MoviePass will transfer funds to your debit card solely for the purpose of buying your ticket.
  7. Go to the kiosk or register and purchase your ticket using your MoviePass debit card.
  8. Enjoy the show!

Important Restrictions

It is important to note that the only thing you are allowed to purchase with your MoviePass debit card is your ticket. Doing otherwise would be a violation of the terms of your subscription, and MoviePass will cancel your account if you do so. If your account is cancelled for violations, you will not be allowed to sign up again.

The ticket you purchase with your MoviePass card has to be for a regular screening for the specific showing you checked in for via the app. You cannot apply the funds to upgrade to a premium show, and you cannot add on any other items. If you want to purchase food and/or beverages, you will have to process a separate transaction. If someone else is attending the movie with you, that person will have to buy his or her ticket separately.

There is also an important age restriction to be aware of. MoviePass subscriptions are only available to individuals who are 18 years of age or older.

Verify Convenient Availability

Before subscribing, you should verify which local theaters participate in MoviePass. You can do this by going to MoviePass.com, scrolling to the bottom of the page, and typing your zip code in to the search box. You will see a list of participating theaters on the right side of the page. You are not limited to using your subscription in your local area. So, if you travel to certain areas frequently, you can also search for theaters in those locations using the same technique. You should also be aware that theater availability can change at any time. The company is working on adding theaters, and theaters have a right to opt out as well.

Making Money?

When you look at what MoviePass offers for such a low price, it's easy to wonder how they can make money, particularly in light of the fact they pay the theaters full price for the tickets its subscribers use. It is owned by leading data analytics firm Helios and Matheson, and its founder and CEO is Mitch Lowe, who was a Netflix executive early in that firm's existence. You can rest assured there is a long-term plan for this company, which is definitely a disruptor in the entertainment industry, to turn a profit. In a January 2018 CNBC interview, he indicated that MoviePass is "buying 1 in every 35 movie tickets" sold in the United States.

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Movie Pass