Just earlier this month, I wrote in a post about how MoviePass, the Netflix-like subscription service for movie theaters, still exists, but barely. Apparently, things changed a lot quicker than I thought—on Friday, MoviePass announced that it was going to shut down on the very next day.
As everyone’s observed for awhile, MoviePass had an unsustainable business model, and it was bleeding money; the constant usage term changes, security problems, etc. also didn’t help. And of course, movie theaters hated MoviePass… or at least long enough to make up their own proprietary versions. Which might be just as well, as MoviePass’ similar third-party rival Sinemia also went under earlier this year. Perhaps it’s only a feasible business model for theater chains themselves?
Since MoviePass is no more, I thought I’d look at other subscription services. I last wrote about such over a year ago, but a lot’s changed since. (Such as my thinking Sinemia was more stable than MoviePass… apparently not.)
AMC Stubs A-List
AMC Stubs A-List is the AMC movie theater chain’s own take on MoviePass. Features include:
- Viewing of up to three films a week.
- Monthly billing.
- Access to all films, including new releases and 3D/IMAX films.
- Some tie-ins with the chain’s AMC Stubs loyalty club.
The monthly subscription rate for A-List varies depending on where one lives, just as movie ticket prices are more expensive in Chicago than a small town in Indiana. (Originally, it was a set $20/month.) Currently, it’s $23.95/month to use A-List in any state AMC has theaters. There’s also $19.95/month and $21.95/month options that reflect where one lives, and exclude varying numbers of other states (mostly California and New York).
On the downside, a three-month minimum commitment is required for A-List.
Those who frequently go to the movies, i.e. more than twice a month, would benefit from A-List. Hardcore 3D/IMAX fans might also find it appealing, as those types of films are also included.
The Cinemark movie theater chain offers its own subscription service. Features include:
- 1 2D movie ticket a month, with unused tickets rolling over.
- 20% off concessions.
- A few other perks related to their movie club points system.
- Cancelling any time, no minimum commitment required.
The main advantages of Cinemark’s plan include that it’s cheaper than the other plans, as well as the rollover for unused tickets.
Like AMC, Cinemark moved from one set price (of $9/month) to region-dependent pricing. It’s $9/month for those in Chicago, while it’s $10/month here in Seattle.
Cinemark’s the cheapest of the subscription plans offered; one also gets a few theater club benefits, plus it can be cancelled at anytime (unlike the other subscription plans).
Disadvantages of Cinemark’s plan include that users get only one ticket per month. And at $9-$10, it’s not much cheaper than just paying normally for a matinee or evening show. Checking the Cinemark theater nearest my house, the “Downton Abbey” movie costs $9.75 for a matinee and $12.75 for an evening showing.
Still, those who only go to the movies once a month (and specifically to evening showings) might find Cinemark’s plan worthwhile.
The Regal Theatres chain also now has their own subscription service. Features include:
- Seeing as many 2D movies as you want. (Surcharges may apply for 3D, IMAX, etc.)
- 10% off concessions.
- Free large popcorn and drink on your birthday.
- Other perks related to their membership club.
Regal Unlimited comes with three plans: Regal Unlimited at $18/month or $216/year (good at 200 of their theaters nationwide); Regal Unlimited Plus at $21/month or $252/year (good at 400 of their theaters); and Regal Unlimited All Access at $23.50/month or $282/year (good at all Regal theaters). The rate apparently depends on where one lives and how many theaters one wants to access, like for AMC’s A-List.
Regal’s advantage is that it’s a more generous plan than Cinemark or AMC; again, those going to the movies more than twice a month would benefit the most.
Disadvantages include that Regal’s app is required to sign up for the plan; you can’t use their website. There’s also a one-year minimum membership period required, whether using the monthly or annual plans.
There’s a few other alternatives for saving money at the movies:
- Gift cards for theater chains are sometimes offered on sale at some retailers.
- Stick with matinees and 2D films, versus evening showings or gimmicks like 3D.
- Skip going to the movies period and wait for the DVD/digital video release. As I wrote before, it’s cheaper by a noticeable margin, especially if multiple people are involved (such as watching movies with a friend, partner, and/or family).