At the risk of being a Moviepass hog, I went and saw another movie tonight. It was primarily for research purposes, so I felt OK with the decision.
First the good part.
The choice for Moviepass customers across the country today at most non-partner theaters was between Christopher Robin and Crazy Rich Asians. I was frankly not very interested in either, but since I loved Winnie the Pooh when I was a kid I thought why not take a chance on that. And with that decision, I was delighted with Moviepass one more time.
Christopher Robin was dare I say it, an awesome surprise. I loved it! I had forgotten what a great story it was, and how totally fantastic all the different characters were. I relived a part of my childhood and sadly relived some of my horrible times in corporate America. The acting, the special effects, the sound, the perfect fuzzy rendition of Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and the gang. It was just super fun.
Now, was it $15 dollars of fun. No – it wasn’t. Was it $3 dollars and 33 cents of fun? Yes, it totally was! Would I have ever gone to see the Movie without my Moviepass? No way in hell. Never, would not even think of going to see a Disney G rated movie on a Wednesday night for 15 bucks.
My research takeaway – Moviepass can offer a surprisingly delightful experience pushing users to see movies that might not otherwise consider. Moviepass can get people (like me) to the theaters to see movies they would never watch ever, like Christopher Robbin. That’s pretty big! I am a believer in the Moviepass – Movie Insurance concept. Even with the new deal, at $3.33 value a use – it’s not a big deal to see a movie just for the hell of it.
Now the Bad Part
I am retired and do what I want whenever I want – unless my wife is telling me what do to… Then I do whatever she says… but I digress. My point is I have plenty of free time to screw around dealing with all the hassles of using the Moviepass experience. I can go to the theater and check in way before the movie time, I get my ticket, run a couple errands, go to dinner, and then go see the show. My flexible schedule is not a reality for most people. When I was working full time, I would not have had the time or patience to deal with a movie purchasing experience like that.
I think a lot of people will be really annoyed with how flakey the service is right now. The idea that you might or might not be able to see a movie, that you only kind of care about. Combined with the issue of – if you don’t get your ticket early from the box office, the same day of the show, you might not be able to go at all, or be stuck paying full price. It’s just not a very compelling value proposition. I think for this new plan to work – people they will need to have at least 4 or 5 good choices available every day. Limiting to two movie choices as was done today, along with the issue of not knowing what will be available from day to day, and not being able to plan for what you might go see on your special date night, I think is going to be a non-starter for a lot of people. I am hoping we haven’t seen the new and improved selection from the new offering, otherwise, I think the sub numbers will suffer – badly.
I am afraid if the service stays flakey like this, it will continue to suffer from adverse selection. I don’t think casual moviegoers will like what is being offered right now. It doesn’t pass the critical elevator test. Meaning you have to be able to clearly explain the value prop on an elevator ride. Maybe the problem is that Moviepass is located in the Empire State Building, that ride might be long enough to explain Moviepass with all the caveats.
Here’s my hypothetical attempt to explain Moviepass to a friend. “Yeh buddy- It’s a good price to see three movies at $3.33 per movie if you get around to seeing 3 each month. It works at most Movie Theaters, but not all and -no iPic. No Imax and no 3D, but they say they are working on an extra fee so you can see those. They only have some of the movies sometimes, and lately, it has only been one or two movies available on any day. <<my real friends have now already stopped listening>> If you see a movie you really want to see in the morning you might want to run down to the theater, check in, get your ticket, to make sure the movie doesn’t disappear out of the app. Oh, and if it is you and your significant other, you will both have to do that. Or you will have to take his/her phone and MP card with you when you go check in. <<now my friend is questioning our friendship and my sanity for recommending this thing at all>> Oh, and one other drawback, you will have no idea what movie you will be able to see on any given day, and you can’t exactly plan to go to any specific movie on a specific day, because, well you never really know what will be available at what theater.” <<The friend is now ready to push me out of the moving elevator>>
So anyway, I think there will need some pretty big tweaking of the service from what we are seeing here for the word of mouth marketing engine to kick back in. Simple fix for MP would be to get organized and be really clear what movies will be available on what days at what theaters. Of course, E-ticket partner theaters are not a problem – and maybe that is what Moviepass is trying to do here. Force more theaters to play ball with them. I can tell you without a doubt, traffic to my theater is obviously way down. The Moviepass crowd is GONE. Small theater chains must want to see those customers come back. At my local theater, we have gone from a full parking lot, long lines at the concession stand, back to, front row parking, and a ghost town theater. It’s like the place has gone back to pre-moviepass days. Sad and empty.
I think Moviepass is going to work out a lot more deals with theaters, and studios, the selection, and predictability will slowly improve. In the meantime, I think cash burn looks like it is well under control, I just hope that chokehold on cash doesn’t kill the subscription goose! ohh Moviepass – never a dull moment – always on the edge!