In an alternate reality, Black Panther is the only film I’ve seen in 2018. But I’m not living in an alternate reality–I’m living in this reality, where I have the power of MoviePass. In this reality, in addition to Black Panther, I’ve seen The Shape of Water, I, Tonya, Molly’s Game, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Phantom Thread since getting my MoviePass card in January. Yes, MoviePass provides a great return on investment, but for me, its greatest benefit is how it’s made it easier than ever for subscribers like me to take part in a cultural experience that seemed to be slipping out of grasp: going to the movies.
For the uninformed, the movie subscription service MoviePass charges subscribers $9.95 each month and, in return, these individuals can see one new 2-D film in participating theaters every day. When you arrive at the theater, you check into the film you want to see on your MoviePhone app, then pay for your ticket using your MoviePhone debit card. Simple as that.And, sure, the skeptics could say, “What? No 3-D?” or, “Whoa, whoa, only ‘participating theaters’?” But to them, I unapologetically say seeing 2-D movies is always better than seeing films in 3-D and over 91 percent of theaters are onboard with MoviePass–I’ve yet to have a problem.
Now, I don’t own a movie theater or film studio, so I can’t and won’t speak for those who do, and won’t get into whatever financial impact MoviePass has on their profits. I can only speak for myself and its impact on my wallet. And for me, there are only benefits. Because I’m one of those old-timers who still prefers experiences tech-savvier individuals jettisoned alongside their iPhone 3GS (I had to Google an outdated model to use as an example… that’s how little I keep up with tech trends). I enjoy going to the movies, but I also pay for another subscription service twice over–Netflix (the streaming and two-disc plans). So, unless a new comic book, Star Wars or critically acclaimed flick was coming to theaters, I was most likely just going to wait until it hit Netflix. And I don’t think I’m alone.
In 2017, movie attendance in the U.S. was down to 1.233 billion tickets sold, according to Box Office Mojo. Now, that may seem like a lot of tickets, but it’s actually the lowest movie theater attendance has been since 1992, when ticket sales reached 1.173 billion.
Is it any wonder the cinema is losing its appeal? From a lack of original major releases (you hear there’s another Star Wars coming out soon?) to ridiculously high concessions prices, streaming movies from the comfort of your own home has just become a much more attractive option.
But… it shouldn’t be that way. The cinema is a creative church we visit to worship artistic collaboration across media. It’s where we go to see movies as their filmmakers intended us to view them (pretty sure Rian Johnson wanted you to see The Last Jedi on the big screen, not your phone screen).
In an age where people are growing increasingly isolated, the cinema provides a venue for a shared experience. Whether you’re witnessing a stunning character reveal in the latest Marvel Studios post-credits scene or jumping out of your seat at a horror film, these experiences are only amplified in a theater packed with an engaged audience.
And, of course, going to the movies is a chance to escape from your everyday life for a few hours and visit the salty planet Crait, admire the futuristic technology of Wakanda or realize, yes, maybe you too could find true love with a fish-person (maybe that one’s just me). Going to the movies could even save your life, as evidenced by this scene from Woody Allen’s 1986 classic Hannah and Her Sisters.
The point is, MoviePass removes a significant barrier standing in the way of enjoying multiple cinema outings in a single month. Take my trip to see Phantom Thread, for instance. I went to a matinee showing on a Sunday afternoon and was charged $11.40 on my MoviePass card. That’s more than I’m paying for a month’s subscription!
Let’s face it; there are times when you want to get out of the house but not spend money. What are your options? Go wander around a mall? Take a walk? What if it’s pouring out or too chilly? MoviePass has created an affordable anytime activity that you can enjoy any day of the week. Whether it’s a weekday or weekend, you can stroll into your local cinema with your smartphone in hand and take your pick of whatever’s playing.
The 90th Academy Awards are March 4, and this may be the first time I’ve seen a majority of the Oscar-nominated films–thanks to MoviePass. See that? MoviePass has even enhanced my Oscars-viewing experience! ABC’s ratings dream come true.Look, I don’t have stock in MoviePass. No friends or family members of mine work for MoviePass. And I’m not looking to score a free year of MoviePass by writing this article (I mean, I wouldn’t mind it…). I simply believe this service has changed my life for the better, and people I know who have jumped on the bandwagon tend to agree.
Now, just as Netflix has raised prices for its plans over time, I’m sure the days of $9.99 MoviePass won’t last forever. Heck, I’m not convinced MoviePass itself will last! I certainly hope it does, just as I hope others will take advantage of the service. Because, while the movie industry is incredibly flawed, I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t go to the movies.
Sadly, that’s a reality many moviegoers are facing. Like Toys “R” Us locations, cinemas are closing. New York City cinephiles, for example, likely know that Lincoln Plaza Cinemas screened its last film in January. And that’s just one of many examples (and a reason to buy popcorn and a soda at those smaller theaters).
So, if carrying my MoviePass card can in even the smallest way help preserve such a cherished experience, then sign me up for a lifetime membership.