Movie Subscriptions

step-cardWe live in a wonderful world of subscriptions. There’s magazines (Netflix), Music (Spotify), Books (Oyster) and now Movies, thanks to MoviePass. For $45 a month (or $540 a year) you can see unlimited movies at AMC theaters, which has a reach that includes 3,700 theaters (33,000+ screens) and there are no blackout dates. Because AMC is the 2nd biggest retail chain in the US (behind Regal, NYTimes), the service may actually take off. MoviePass will initially launch in Denver and Boston with the ability to see films in any format, including Imax and 3-D.

If there is a way to “legally” share the service it may be worth it. If you tend to visit theaters often and like seeing movies more than once, it may be worth it. If you like to binge watch multiple movies on a lazy Saturday or Sunday (watch back-to-back movies) as a way to disconnect or relieve stress, it may be worth it. If the services includes reserved seats (those run about $15 a pop here in Atlanta), it may be worth it. Whatever your rationale is, you’d have to see 36 movies per year to break even : $540 / 15 = 36… math is such a beautiful thing! That’s an average of 3 movies each month. And at 2 hours each (conservative estimate), you’ll be spending a whopping 72 hours a year sitting on your bottom, probably snacking on less-than-healthy food. Who has time for that??!

Another way to look at this is to weigh the opportunity costs (the value of the best alternative forgone, say a trip to California or interest earned from a savings account). What else could you do with that $540 dollars? We’re not talking < $10 per month here (Spotify, Netflix, NextIssue, Oyster) – MoviePass is (in some case more than) 3x the individual cost of each of those services.  You could actually have unlimited music, movies, magazines and books for less that the cost of this unlimited movie service alone and you’d never have to leave your home. As I think through this and focus on my goals for 2015, even if this service was offered in my area, I shall pass.

In any event, the business model for all these subscription services pretty much work the same: To make money, the service depends on traditional subscription-service economics: More people pay than go (or listen or watch or read).