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MoviePass is coming back, but are moviegoers?

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Movie theater employee handing a customer popcorn

The subscription service MoviePass is trying to stage a comeback this summer. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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During the mid-2010s, startups launched subscription services for everything, like ClassPass for workouts, MealPal for restaurant takeout and MoviePass for movie tickets. Some of these companies still exist, but MoviePass didn’t make it. But, with a new business model, it looks like MoviePass is hoping to make a comeback this summer.

An all-you-can-eat buffet of screenings for $10 a month sounds too good to be true — and it was, for MoviePass, for theaters, for everyone but moviegoers.

“The $10 price point just was never going to work,” said Stacy Spikes, the CEO of MoviePass. Going forward, MoviePass will use dynamic pricing. Customers get a number of credits, and tickets are given different values based on show times and other factors, he said.

The idea is to get people into seats during odd hours, and at this point, into theaters at all.

“What MoviePass is doing is basically trying to come in during this period of recovery when people’s moviegoing habits are being reconfigured,” said Daniel Loria, a writer for Boxoffice Pro.

The major theater chains like Regal, AMC and Cinemark already have their own subscription services. If they don’t opt in, MoviePass will have much less market presence.

“Yes, they can go through independents. Yes, they can go through art houses. But in effect, you’ll end up having a regional plan,” Loria said.

The industry’s still struggling. Paul Dergarabedian, a media analyst at Comscore, said last year’s box office sales were 40% of what they were before the pandemic. But he’s expecting a recovery with highly anticipated films coming out this year, so theaters may hold out.

“If the movie industry is recovering, and it’s gonna go back to ‘normal,’ do you really need MoviePass?” Dergarabedian said.

Sometimes sequels do better than the original, and this could be true for MoviePass. People loved “The Godfather,” but more Oscars went to “The Godfather Part II.”

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