Moviepass Maybe Finding Some Footing

It’s been a while since we have talked Moviepass here. Basically, the company has been on a silent death spiral for the past few weeks and there has not been much to say other than to hope and pray that management could get their act together, or even better, get rid of Fartsworth altogether.

Amazingly folks across the internet and social webs are reporting surprisingly good ticket availability. I have noticed a small but significant improvement here in my small hometown as well. I was even able to score 2 tickets to Bohemian Rhapsody, a movie that I thought sure I was going to have to pay the full ticket price for expecting I would never be able to get a ticket via the Moviepass scam. I had to run to the theater many hours before the movie time to make that work, and there were other poor souls from Moviepass who had already beat me to the punch, but l was still lucky enough to score the tickets.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Moviepass has gone low. The service is settling in as a bargain basement type service that offers a decent value with some extra headaches, it is not for everyone, but it can and should work for many. As I have explained before, if Moviepass can extend a theatrical release of a film and boost box office total receipts it can be good for both theaters and for studios. Theaters gain in two ways. 1- more people fill seats instead of waiting to see the movie in-home. 2- of the films are viewed later in the theatrical release the theaters keep more of that revenue for themselves. The consumers have to accept that they may have to wait to see the movie later in the cycle. But for many, not all, that will be a trade-off they will be willing to make.

Studios benefit as not only does the improved theatrical release help the bottom line immediately, it also helps to drive downstream revenue for streaming and other in-home release revenue streams. Downstream revenues are determined by a factor of how well a film does in the theatrical release. Meaning a strong theatrical release improves all the rest of the revenue a film will make 10 years or so of its life. It’s important to studios. And it is why the MoviePass Ventures could someday have a leg up on the competition.

Another piece of positive news was the promotion of Khalid Itum to Executive Vice President of the company. He appears to be a solid choice for the role. He has the right background, but even better, he seems to have a clue when it comes to what the company needs to focus on to achieve and capitalize on the success it once enjoyed. As stated in the release. While his quote was extra long he hit exactly the right points and the right tone. It’s the first thing I have seen from this management team that appears to be truly customer centric!

“I’m eager to continue building MoviePass and am proud of how far we’ve come. The road hasn’t been easy — and the hyper growth has been challenging. However, we’ve taken a hard look over the past few weeks and months at what needs to happen in order to not just preserve what we’ve built, but to use it as a foundation upon which to build. Because of this, I know we’ll emerge a better partner to the theaters (big and small), major studios and independent distributors with whom we have the privilege of working to collectively best serve the interests of the American consumer,” said Khalid Itum, Executive Vice President of MoviePass. “You may notice we’ve been out of the news for some time, and that’s been by design. At MoviePass, we’ve recently prioritized building toward a vision that aligns our success with greater consumption of entertainment. You’ll soon be able to judge for yourselves, and I believe that the best marketing we can do, today and always, is to enhance our product and treat our subscriber as a member of something special: because that’s what MoviePass is to a great number of Americans already. It’s on us to regain their trust. I believe the future is bright for our company, and I couldn’t do it without my team which has been giving its 200% dedication and effort to transform the offering and platform into its full potential. I look forward to announcing some powerful additions to our management team to join with us in charging forward.”

This sounds like a guy who actually “gets it”.

There is a lot packed into that quote. Let’s go over it.

  • He knows that they grew too fast and screwed up the experience
  • He believes focusing on the customer experience is the best marketing- that’s really really important. Just doing stupid deals and promotions doesn’t work. They need the product to work. And be something people value. He seems to get that.
  • He tips his hand that things are about to change and new things are coming. He sets expectations to see some decent news soon!
  • He seems to be dedicated to helping his team succeed and to bringing on new talent who can help him with improving the service.
  • For the first time in a loooong time it appears we may have a solid guy leading the day to day operations. Mitch Lowe I think is a good concept guy, and big thinker, but I think he is weak on details and hardcore operations. Fartsworth is essentially worthless. He was supposed to be a money and deal guy, but he has proven to be neither. So having a guy in place who may actually be able to run a business could be a very big boost to helping Moviepass survive.

On a final note. It occurred to me that the Costco promotion for Moviepass happened about this time last year. We don’t know how many people found Moviepass via Costco, but I think it was a big chunk of their early hyper-growth. Costco customers will take a good deal with extreme confidence because they know that Costco backs their products 100%. I know I would have never bought Moviepass had the yearly deal not been offered by Costco. This was probably a deal the Moviepass ended up regretting a great deal. Costco customers – particularly their online customers are deal seekers, and they love getting something of a crazy good deal.

The problem with these customers I believe is that they used Moviepass more than they ever thought they would. Just think about Costco’s members. They have a TON of people who are retired who have little else to do than wander around the store snacking on samples looking for bargains. These are the exact people who have too much time on their hands and will see lots of free movies on an unlimited plan. Yes- I am one of these people. Although I was not a huge abuser of Moviepass because I am actually pretty busy. I did intend on using the service and getting my money’s worth.

Making matters worse for Moviepass, the deal they struck with Costco forced them to keep Costco customers on the unlimited plan. Moviepass was able to move all of their other customers over to the limited plans months ago. Because they were out of money and had all these unlimited Costco users eating up cash, they hatched all kinds of ways to restrict usage. Those measures basically ruined the service for everyone. Although in the past several weeks users on the new restricted month to month plans did start seeing more showtime availability, much better than the legacy Costco customers on unlimited.

The good news for Moviepass is the Costco customers are now starting to expire their first year. These customers will be rolled into the limited plans, and Moviepass will start seeing revenue from the customers who remain. Who knows how many are still around? That’s anybody’s guess at this point.

I do think that this may be the beginning of the end of the terrible Moviepass experience from the last couple of months.

Let’s hope the new guy can live up to his promises. I am calling him DJ Khalid!

Lord knows Ted never could!