Guide to the Best Movie Ticket Subscription Services of 2018

It’s easier – and cheaper – than ever to go to the movies.

Over the past few years, four major movie ticket subscription services have launched, providing avid and casual moviegoers the chance to see anywhere from one movie a month to one movie a day for prices ranging from $4.99 to $29.99 a month.

The issue isn’t so much finding the best bargain, as all of the available subscription services offer some level of value. The trick is finding the theater subscription service that gives you the right mix of value, access to premium movies and other important factors for moviegoers.

We’re going to provide you our choice for the best service, then give you our overall rankings for each of the four services we’ve analyzed: MoviePass, Sinemia, AMC Stubs A-List, and Cinemark Movie Club.

The guide is split up into the following sections:

HighYa’s Top Pick for the Best Movie Ticket Subscription Service

Best Overall

To determine the best overall movie ticket subscription, we graded the four services across seven different categories, all of which we think are important to your moviegoing experience.

AMC surged ahead of the competition because it offers good value across multiple areas: movies per week, premium-format shows, and the AMC app were A-List’s strengths. Because it scored so well in those areas, the service was able to make up for its lack of low-cost plans and the fact that the subscription is limited to AMC theaters.

Rank Subscription Overall Grade Value for Avid Moviegoers Value for Casual Moviegoers Convenience of Buying Tickets Premium Formats App Customer Service
1 AMC A-List B+ B C A A A A
2 Sinemia C+ A B B C C D
3 Cinemark Movie Club C+ D D A D A A
4 MoviePass D C B C F D D

 

#1. AMC Stubs A-List
AMC Stubs A-List
Summary: Hits on all the important areas: plenty of movies per month, phone-based customer service, excellent app scores and the inclusion of nearly all of AMC’s premium-format movies. The downside is you have one plan – it may not be a good choice for those with limited budgets.

Monthly cost: $19.95
Movies per Month Premium Formats Included Average App Store Score
12 All but IMAX VR 4.8 (Apple) and 4.3 (Google)
More on this subscription: Read Our Full Review

 

#2. Sinemia
Sinemia
Summary: Offers five different monthly plans that fit all budgets. Their $29.99 plan is the only one of the four services we ranked to offer a movie a day. Another strength is you can use their service at nearly every theater in the country. Downsides are limited premium-format movies and lack of phone-based customer service.

Monthly cost: $4.99 - $29.99
Movies per Month Premium Formats Included Average App Store Score
1 - 30 One a month for certain plans 4.8 (Apple) and 4.3 (Google)
More on this subscription: Read Our Full Review

 

#3. Cinemark Movie Club
Cinemark Movie Club
Summary: A peculiar service because it only provides one movie a month at $8.99. However, Cinemark’s app gets high scores, you can reach their customer service department by phone and they have more than 300 theaters across the country. Not a good choice for frequent moviegoers but great for those who appreciate a good app and good customer service.

Monthly cost: $8.99
Movies per Month Premium Formats Included Average App Store Score
1 None 3.9 (Apple) and 2.9 (Google)
More on this subscription: Read Our Full Review

 

#4. MoviePass
MoviePass
Summary: Their monthly plan offers 3 movies a month, which is a good budget-based choice, but they limit the movies you can see to a list they generate every day. No premium formats are available and the company’s app gets low ratings in the iTunes and Google stores. On the plus side, you get to choose from virtually any theater in your area.

Monthly cost: $9.99
Movies per Month Premium Formats Included Average App Store Score
3 None 2.1 (Apple) and 2.3 (Google)
More on this subscription: Read Our Full Review

 

HighYa’s Picks for the Best Movie Ticket Subscription Services for Specific Situations

In our opinion, AMC Stubs A-List is the clear choice for the best overall subscription. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s the best service for every moviegoer.

We all find ourselves in different situations. Some of us would go to the movies every day if we could afford it, while others prefer just one or two showings a month.

We think there are multiple situations in which one service may be better than another. Here are the situations we’ll cover in this section:

Best Movie Ticket Subscription for the Avid Moviegoer

Best Movie Ticket Subscription for the Avid Moviegoer

People who love going to the movies would go every day if they could. Until the emergence of theater subscriptions, this wasn’t really financially possible for most people.

However, those days of spending hundreds of dollars a month to go to the theater are gone and, when it comes to the right service for movie fans, there are some clear winners and losers.

Editor’s note: “Movies per month” is based on a 30-day month.

Rank Subscription Movies per Month Notes
1 Sinemia 30 Sinemia’s $29.99 plan allows you to watch a movie a day, something that no other service offered. This fact alone makes is the top choice for avid moviegoers.
2 AMC Stubs A-List 12 While this $19.95 plan isn’t quite as lucrative as Sinemia’s, three movies a week should be more than enough for enthusiastic moviegoers. You can watch those movies all in one day or on separate days.
3 MoviePass 3 As far as movie fanatics go, MoviePass’ three movies a month for $9.99 really won’t get the job done. It doesn’t offer nearly the value of AMC’s service, which costs twice as much but offers four times the movie tickets.
4 Cinemark Movie Club 1 Cinemark’s Movie Club only provides one movie a month for $8.99, which is less-than-adequate if you love the movies. Price-wise, a dollar more a month will get you three movies with MoviePass.

Things to Consider

One of the things that you need to be clear on is how many times you actually go to the movies every month. One industry publication we reviewed before crafting our rankings indicates that the average American goes to the movies five times a year.

So, ask yourself, do you have a pattern of going to the movies often and are looking for a cheaper way to get to the theater, or are you only interested in A-List or Sinemia because you think having the membership will encourage you to go to the movies more often?

Just like with gym memberships, there’s a chance that simply signing up for a movie ticket subscription isn’t going to send you to the movies more often.

Another thing to consider is that Sinemia will charge you a $29.99 fee if you choose to sing up for their daily movie subscription on a month-to-month rather than a yearly basis. If you think that three movies a month suits you best, then going with AMC’s plan – even though it’s limited to AMC theaters – may be the better choice.

Also, consider the actual moviegoing experience. Sinemia will get you into pretty much any theater in your city every day of the week. While AMC limits your tickets to three a week, their A-List membership gives you a priority line at the ticket office and the concession stand and gives you free size upgrades, their site says, on soda and popcorn.

Best Movie Ticket Subscription for the Casual Moviegoer

Best Movie Ticket Subscription for the Casual Moviegoer

Not every moviegoer wants to see three or more movies a week. Therefore, a subscription service’s lower-cost offerings are more important than their most expensive plans.

There’s a lot of variation among the four services we analyzed, which we’ll talk about after we give you our rankings:

Rank Subscription Monthly Cost Notes
1 MoviePass $9.99
for 3 movies a month
In our opinion, MoviePass provides the best value for casual moviegoers who don’t want to spend more than $10 on a subscription and want the freedom to see more than one movie a month.
2 Sinemia $9.99
for 3 movies a month
Sinemia offers an identical plan to MoviePass with one catch. If you go monthly, you’ll need to pay a $19.99 fee to start your subscription, which drops it below MoviePass in terms of value.
3 Cinemark Movie Club $8.99
for 1 movie a month
Uninspiring is how we’d describe this plan, mainly because the value isn’t that great but it will cost you less than MoviePass and Sinemia’s $9.99 plan, not to mention AMC’s $19.99 price tag.
4 AMC Stubs A-List $19.95
for 12 movies a month
AMC’s has but one plan, so, as far as value for the casual moviegoer goes, it misses the mark.

Things to Consider

We believe that MoviePass is the best choice for the casual moviegoer because you can go month-to-month without paying a start-up fee like you would with Sinemia.

However, Sinemia has a big advantage over MoviePass in that they offer a $4.99 plan that gets you one movie a month. We wrestled with ranking Sinemia higher than MoviePass in this category but ultimately ranked MoviePass higher believing that it offers better value and the chance to expand your moviegoing beyond just one day month.

Another advantage is that you can try MoviePass and, if you don’t like it or don’t feel as though you go to the movies enough to justify the monthly fee, then you can cancel without worrying about wasting a sign-up fee.

Cinemark’s $8.99 service is uninspiring in the sense that it’s cheap but is only a dollar less than a pair of plans that provide three movies a month. The advantage here is that you get a 20% discount on concessions, which is a distinct perk of going with a theater-branded subscription.

Best Movie Ticket Subscription for Convenience of Buying Tickets

Best Movie Ticket Subscription for Convenience of Buying Tickets

Based on our research, we believe the cost is the main factor in deciding which movie ticket service is best for you. Right after that, though, is what you have to do to buy a ticket.

The industry is moving toward mobile, online and in-person purchases. However, not every company has made that move, as our rankings reveal.

Rank Subscription Buying Options Notes
1 AMC Stubs A-List & Cinemark Movie Club Online, mobile and in-person There’s no differentiation here as both of these theater-branded programs let you buy your tickets online or through the app before you get to the theater. They finish at the top because they provide the most options.
2 Sinemia Online, mobile and in-person Like AMC and Cinemark, you can use the Sinemia app to buy tickets online before you get to the theater. However, you have to wait 1-2 weeks for the cardless-purchase feature to activate. If you want it to work immediately, you have to pay a $9.99 fee.
3 MoviePass In-person Buying a ticket with MoviePass requires that you open the app when you’re at theater, check-in, select a movie and then use a physical card to pay for the showing. It’s cumbersome and, in some cases, requires photo verification of your movie ticket.

Things to Consider

You want your movie subscription to be as easy as possible and, with this in mind, AMC and Cinemark are excellent choices if the user experience is what you value. As you’ll read later on, their apps get excellent reviews from users in both the iTunes and Google stores.

Take a moment to consider Sinemia, too. Their business model puts a premium on capitalizing on your desire to go monthly rather than yearly and to be able to use cardless ticket purchasing right away.

If you choose both of these paid services for the movie-a-day plan, you’ll end up paying $39.98 to get what comes complimentary with AMC, Sinemia’s main competitor when it comes to getting more than three movies a month.

Best Movie Ticket Subscription for Premium-Format Movies

Best Movie Ticket Subscription for Premium-Format Movies

This category should be a big draw for those who love a comprehensive movie experience with high-quality sound and video quality.

We see this as a category that is especially important to avid moviegoers and a nice perk if you want the option of choosing a premium-format movie every once in a while. Unfortunately, only two of the subscriptions give you complimentary premium-format movies:

Rank Subscription Formats Included Notes
1 AMC Stubs A-List 2D, IMAX, Dolby cinema, PRIME, RealD 3D, BigD, D-Box AMC provides the best selection of premium-format movies. Their subscription is the only one that doesn’t limit their premium choices.
2 Sinemia 2D, 3D, IMAX, 4DX, DBOX, ScreenX Sinemia puts you in a jam because you only get premium formats in their Elite subscriptions, which are $12.99 or $17.99 and limit you to one premium movie a month.
3 Cinemark Movie Club 2D They won’t give you any premium formats for free, but you have the chance to pay for an upgrade that’s the difference in price of a regular ticket and the premium ticket.
4 MoviePass 2D No premium movies and, at the time of publishing, no options for paying for an upgraded experience put MoviePass at the bottom of the list.

Things to Consider

This category is a tricky one because your options are limited and those options force you into a limited set of choices: Sinemia’s two plans – $12.99/$17.99 – that only include one premium-format movie and AMC’s $19.95 plan.

Based on our examination of the numbers, we think the AMC price point is well worth it if you want access to all but a couple of premium formats.

Now, smart consumers will take a moment to ask themselves what they need out of their moviegoing experience. If you’re an avid ticket purchaser and movies are what you’d consider your hobby, AMC’s plan is a foregone conclusion.

However, the AMC premium format availability isn’t quite as lucrative for its members as you think.

A good example of this is PRIME at AMC movies, in which your seat rumbles with the action in the movie. There are only 10 theaters in the country with PRIME-equipped theaters. If you don’t live near those theaters, then the inclusion of PRIME tickets in your A-List subscription is worthless.

The same applies to D-BOX movies, another immersive seating experience that AMC offers. However, this format is only available in 10 theaters across the country.

Best Movie Ticket Subscription App

Best Movie Ticket Subscription App

Each of the four movie services we’re analyzing has their own apps, with AMC and Cinemark’s subscription services integrated into apps that already existed before the subscription service did.

Sinemia and MoviePass, on the other hand, had to create apps from scratch without an existing platform and, as the rankings show, that hurts them:

Rank Subscription App Reviews Notes
1 AMC Stubs A-List 4.8 (iTunes)
4.3 (Google)
AMC’s reviews are sparkling for both platforms and make the app the clear winner. Your experience with their app should be relatively pain-free.
2 Cinemark Movie Club 4.8 (iTunes)
4.1 (Google)
Cinemark’s reviews in the iTunes store are equal to AMC’s, but its Google scores are lower. Either way, the app experience is, according to users, nearly identical to AMC.
3 Sinemia 3.9 (iTunes)
2.9 (Google)
Sinemia’s iOS app has higher scores but just 322 reviews at the time of publishing. If you’re an Android user, the app’s reviews indicate there’s a good chance you’ll have an average to below-average experience.
4 MoviePass 2.1 (iTunes)
2.3 (Google)
MoviePass’ reviewers are the only ones who rate the iOS experience lower than the Android experience. Glitches, faults with ticket verification and other issues plague the MoviePass app.

Things to Consider

Based on our research of thousands of consumer products, we’ve found that, in general, the more reviews an app has, the more accurate the overall review score. This is a key metric for Sinemia’s iOS app since only around 320 people have reviewed it.

So, if you’re an iOS user, remember that there isn’t enough data in the way of reviews to give you an accurate depiction of how the app might work for you. Keep in mind, though, that this doesn’t mean that your experience will be bad; the jury is still out on how Sinemia’s iOS app will perform.

One of the things we noticed and mentioned a few seconds ago is that AMC and Cinemark have the advantage of adding their subscription service to their existing apps. There’s not much that MoviePass and Sinemia can do about this and, for you, there’s also a downside.

Sinemia and MoviePass are the two most solid choices for intermediate subscriptions that provide multiple movies a month at a sub-$10 price point. Because Sinemia is app-based and MoviePass, while using a card to buy tickets, requires you to use their app in order to check in.

Based on our research, we believe that Sinemia would be the better choice over MoviePess for both the iOS and Android apps.

Best Movie Ticket Subscription for Customer Service

Best Movie Ticket Subscription Customer Service

The final category of analysis is customer service. This is an important area because there are situations in which fast help is really important.

If you’re at the box office and, for some reason, your app isn’t working and you can’t get into a movie, you want quick access to customer service associates who can work with you to resolve the situation before the movie starts:

Rank Subscription Support Options Notes
1 Cinemark Movie Club Phone and email Leading up to our research, we called Cinemark’s Movie Club line and we were able to talk with someone in less than one minute between when we dialed the number and when we talked with a real person.
2 AMC Stubs A-List Phone and email The difference between Cinemark and AMC is that AMC requires you to enter a Stubs number in order to reach their A-List customer service. This could be frustrating if you don’t have your number memorized and have to open the app every time you call.
3 MoviePass Email All of MoviePass’ customer service interactions happen through email. HighYa reviewers note many negative experiences with MoviePass, giving them an average of 1.1 stars.
4 Sinemia Email Sinemia lands on the bottom of this list because they only provide email support and HighYa reviewers, at the time of publishing, gave the company an average of 1 star, with many complaints surfacing about poor customer service.

Things to Consider

Customer service is the glaring weakness of MoviePass and Sinemia. The customers who left reviews on HighYa all express a frustration over a combination of factors, many of which include the email interactions they have with representatives from both companies.

Because these two subscription services did not integrate into existing legacy companies like AMC and Cinemark, they have the freedom of doing things their own way which, from a consumer’s perspective, is great because Sinemia and MoviePass offer good value at the $10 price point – better than what you get from AMC and Cinemark.

However, because they’re mobile-based, you’re stuck with email interactions with customer service representatives.

If you’re the kind of person who wants to limit your movie ticket subscription payments to $10 a month, then you have to realize that, should you run into any issues, the customer service side of things is most likely going to be frustrating at one point or another, according to the customer feedback we’ve read.

Advice from a Movie Industry Expert

Our goal in ranking movie theater subscription is to provide you with an objective, data-based approach to each service. We’ve got a lot of expertise in this area; however, we aren’t movie critics.

We wanted to hear from a movie critic regarding MoviePass, Sinemia, AMC Stubs A-List and Cinemark Movie Club.

So, we reached out to Eden Weinberg, marketing adviser at MovieRanker, a social platform for movie fans that includes rankings, videos, and discussions.

When we asked Weinberg her thoughts on the best movie ticket subscription, she chose AMC Stubs A-List.

“In my opinion, AMC A-List is currently the best option purely because of the quantity and quality of its cinemas,” she said. “Not only do you get to see any movie, whether it’s playing in IMAX or Dolby Cinema ... but you are also paying less than the cost of a single Dolby Cinema ticket for an entire month’s subscription of AMC A-List.”

As far as what you should keep in mind when you consider one of these subscriptions, Weinberg said to make sure you familiarize yourself with all the details of each service. This is why we like to include a section on the fine print in some of our movie ticket subscription reviews.

“If you are looking for perks, keep an eye out for the bundled packages these different services are offering to win you over,” she said. “Personally, I would like to know that I have the option to see a new movie in a comfy theater with reclining seats through my movie-ticket subscription service.”

Movie Ticket Subscription Service FAQ

In this section, you’ll find some common questions about the movie theater subscriptions in this guide.

Are there fees aside from their monthly payments?

Yes.

Sinemia requires you to pay for convenience fees, which are fees that movie theaters typically charge when you buy a ticket online. When Sinemia issued physical cards, this wasn’t an issue because you had to use the card at the theater box office. However, now that they’re phasing out their physical cards, you’ll have to pay convenience fees.

Cinemark will charge you a fee if you want to upgrade your ticket to a premium format. Their terms and conditions indicate that the fee is the difference between the movie’s regular price and its premium price. So, if the regular ticket price is $10 and the premium seating is $17, you'll pay an extra $7.

At the time of publishing, MoviePass did not provide a way to upgrade your ticket but their website noted that they had plans to offer this option in the future.

How many people actually use all their free movies?

According to the research we’ve done, the average American goes to the movie theater five times a year. There were no stats at the time of publishing regarding how many customers actually use all their allotted tickets in their subscription plan.

However, if you take the average number of times someone goes to the movie and subtract it from a three-movie-a-month plan (36 per year), then, if the averages hold true, about 29 of your yearly tickets will go unused.

What happens to unused monthly tickets?

If you don’t use your monthly allotment for tickets via AMC, MoviePass or Sinemia, you lose them. Cinemark is the only movie ticket subscription that allows you to roll an unused ticket into the following month.

How do you cancel your subscription?

Each of the movie ticket services allows you to cancel from your account page in their app or, in the case of AMC and Cinemark, you can cancel via phone call.

You won’t be refunded the fee you paid for the current month; the plan will end once the month’s billing cycle is over.

Also, keep in mind that MoviePass won’t let you sign up for their service again for nine months if you cancel.

How do you know where you can use Sinemia and MoviePass?

The two sites/apps allow you to search your area for participating theaters. You can find out which options you have before you sign up.

Our Methodology

We ranked each of the movie theater subscriptions by six categories we felt were the most important to the consumer.

For each category, we provided a letter grade based on a scale of A (best) to F (worst). We considered an A grade to represent the best-case scenario and an F to represent the worst-case scenario.

A good example of this is the premium-format category. AMC provides all the most popular premium formats, so we gave it an A. MoviePass, at the time of publishing, had no option for paying for an upgraded ticket and, therefore, we gave it an F.

In other situations, services offered the same basic service but nuances in the service warranted a differentiation in grading. For example, AMC, Cinemark, and Sinemia offer mobile ticket purchases. Sinemia, however, delays your access to mobile purchases for between 1-2 weeks and, if you want the service faster, you have to pay a fee.

This isn’t the case with AMC or Cinemark, which is why we gave them A’s and we gave Sinemia a B.


J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren is a personal finance reporter who examines credit cards, credit scores and bank products. J.R. is a three-time winner at the Florida Press Club’s Excellence in Journalism contest and his advice has been featured in MSN and Fox’s money sections.


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