What Is MoviePass?

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Updated on: Oct 3, 2018

MoviePass is a movie ticket subscription service offering three movies for $9.95 a month at 91% of movie theaters in the United States.

The company is unique in that it recently transitioned from offering a $9.95 monthly plan that included a movie a day to a plan of the same price offering three movies.

The company was founded in 2011 by Hamett Watt and Stacy Spikes. Previous to MoviePass, Watt founded multiple companies. Spikes has the movie theater and entertainment background. He served as a VP at October Films and Miramax Films, as well as VP at Sony Music.

The company made big news in August 2017 when it lowered its monthly subscription fees below $10 but, at the same time, the onslaught of new customers the lowered subscription price brought – about 1.8 million – created various customer service problems, eventually causing MoviePass to downgrade their plan.

Is MoviePass worth it? What are the benefits and limitations of the program? Is there any fine print you should be aware of?

These are the types of questions we’re going to answer in this review via in-depth research of the company’s site, FAQ page and fine print.

How MoviePass Works

The application process to get a MoviePass membership is relatively quick but there are a few things you need to know.

Basically, you go to their website or their app and sign up for the one plan they offer: $9.95 for three movies a month.

From there, you’ll have to wait 7-10 days to receive a MoviePass debit card that you’ll use at the theater to obtain your free ticket.

Pro tip: MoviePass is a month-to-month contract, so you can cancel at any time without paying any cancellation fees.

How to Buy a Movie Ticket With MoviePass

Once you receive your MoviePass card in the mail, you’re ready to start cashing in on your free movie tickets.

Keep in mind, however, that you can’t buy advance tickets with your subscription. In other words, you can’t go to your local theater’s website and purchase tickets with your MoviePass card.

The program is set up with a two-step process. The first step is to actually go to the theater where you want to watch the movie, open your MoviePass app and check in. If your location services are functioning as they should, your app will recognize the theater you’re at and show it as an option for checking-in.

Once you check in, then you have a 30-minute window in which you can use your card to buy a movie. Paying for the ticket is the same as if you were doing so with a credit or debit card. You go to a kiosk or the ticket window, tell them which movie you want to watch and then hand them your MoviePass card.

According to the site’s FAQ page, IMAX and 3D movies are not part of the subscription, so you can’t watch them with your membership.

At the time of publishing, there were two ways that your post-purchase experience would go. Some members wouldn’t have to do anything after the purchase. However, some members were part of the company’s beta ticket verification program.

Basically, if you’re selected for the program you have to upload a photo of your ticket stub into the app so that MoviePass can verify the purchase was legitimate and that you’re not abusing the system by, for example, watching more than one movie in a day.

The ticket verification beta has had some issues, which we’ll talk about in the next section, which has caused complaints on the app’s iTunes and Google Play pages, as well as in the MoviePass subreddit.

Consumer Reviews of MoviePass

As we mentioned earlier, MoviePass underwent some growing pains when its membership numbers hit 2 million after its new pricing structure kicked in.

Among the complaints from consumers that we saw in the iTunes and Google Play pages for MoviePass’ app, those who were involved in the ticket verification process said that there were times that the service rejected their verification even though the tickets clearly noted they were MoviePass purchases and were made on the day of the verification.

Other complaints about the service include users who faced issues at movie theaters because of their MoviePass subscription. We also read a complaint from a customer who said their MoviePass card took four months to show up and they were charged for the four months they didn’t have the card.

Others said that communication with the company’s support team was slow and cumbersome.

How MoviePass Compares to Cinemark Movie Club and Sinemia

At the time of publishing, MoviePass has three main competitors: Cinemark Movie Club, Sinemia and AMC Stubs A-List. The following table will highlight the differences and similarities between the three. Afterwards, we’ll talk about how they rate against each other:

MoviePass Sinemia AMC Stubs A-List Cinemark Movie Club
Plan prices $9.95 $4.99 - $29.99 $19.95 $8.99
Tix included in best plan 3 1 - 31 12 1
Premium included? No Yes, certain plans and 1 a month Yes No
Advance purchase No Yes Yes Yes
Discounted tickets Yes No No Yes
Couples option No Yes No No
Theaters included Multiple nationwide Multiple nationwide Only AMC Only Cinemark
App scores (iTunes/Google average rating) 2.1/2.3 3.9/2.9 4.8 /4.3 4.8/4.1
Phone support No No Yes Yes

Sinemia’s $9.99 plan is most similar to the MoviePass plan, so we’ll cover a comparison of these two before moving on to comparing all four services.

The MoviePass $9.95 description certainly is unique among subscription services because the plan is the only one the company offers and, unlike Sinemia, who offers three movies a month for a similar price, MoviePass limits the movies you can watch.

So, in that sense, we believe that Sinemia is the better choice at $10-a-month pass simply because you can choose any movie you want.

Digging deeper into the chart reveals that Sinemia outperforms MoviePass in reviews by its app users: 3.9 stars in the iTunes store as compared to 2.1 stars for MoviePass.

Also, the movie selection you get with MoviePass is limited. On the day of publishing, their site listed 11 movies you could watch with your ticket. We then went to listings for a local Epic Theaters location and found it too was offering 11 movies.

However, the big difference was that the Epic Theater was offering the most recent movies – blockbusters included – whereas MoviePass’ lineup looked like a collection of independent and non-blockbuster films.

The main advantage that MoviePass has over Sinemia is that you can get discounted prices ($2 - $5 off) on movie tickets you buy for yourself once you’ve used up your three movies for the month.

When compared to AMC A-List and Cinemark, MoviePass is a mixed bag. It’s definitely the smarter choice over Cinemark Movie Club simply because you get three movies instead of one.

AMC A-List is by far the better choice for avid moviegoers because you get three movies a week, there are no restrictions on which titles you can watch and they allow you to watch nearly all of their premium movie formats including Dolby Audio, IMAX and 3D.

The other advantage both Cinemax and AMC’s subscriptions possess is that they have a customer service phone number you can call, whereas MoviePass correspondence takes place through email.

Pros and Cons of Using MoviePass

Based on our research, we believe this movie ticket subscription’s strength lies in the value it offers. The fact that you can get a free movie every day of the week is unparalleled among similar services.

The downside to this service as compared to Sinemia and Cinemark is that you can’t buy tickets in advance, which means you’ll never have 100-percent certainty that tickets are available until you’re actually at the movie theater or you call ahead.

The other drawback to this service and to all movie services is the reality that the average American, according to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), watches about five movies a year in the theater.

Let’s assume that those averages carry over into a MoviePass subscription and that the average member goes to the movies five times a year, all in separate months. You’ll end up paying $119.40 for your year-long subscription, while only using the service five months out of the year. That’s more than $69 in wasted subscription fees.

Based on these pros and cons, we believe that MoviePass is a good fit for someone who already goes to the movie theater at least twice a month and wants a way to save money on ticket prices. Why twice a month? The MPAA notes the average price of a cinema ticket was a few cents less than $9 in 2016, making a once-a-month visit to your theater cheaper than a MoviePass monthly subscription.

» For Further Reading: Guide to the Best Movie Ticket Subscription Services

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21 Consumer Reviews for MoviePass

Average Consumer Rating: 1.1
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 0 4 star: 0 3 star: 1 2 star: 1 1 star:  19
Bottom Line: 0% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 21
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  • Not good anymore

    • California,
    • Nov 12, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I paid for a year of service in March. At first, it was good, but now I can only see two movies out of 17 theaters in my area. I tried calling them at 646-400-0801 and it was of no use. Their customer service is just as bad.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Do NOT subscribe to MoviePass!

    • Fresno, CA,
    • Nov 12, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    When I first signed up for MoviePass, it felt too good to be true. A free movie a day, for only $9.95 a month! While I knew I wouldn't be able to go to a theater every day, knowing that I could go on the weekends and several times throughout the month felt like a deal I could not pass up. And for a few months, this was a golden deal.

    Now, I try to go to the theater, and with all the new regulations, I can't even use MoviePass the way I did before. I got MoviePass because I thought I was saving money, and now as I look at my movie-going history, I realize I'm losing money. All the films I saw the last two months (and I see one about every other week) weren't able to be paid for with my MoviePass. The last time I used it, in August, I had to take a picture of my stub/receipt. It wouldn't have been a big deal, but the picture of my stub was rejected when it clearly showed that I used the card for the time/date/movie I checked into. Another incident over the summer left me feeling embarrassed when I checked into a movie, and the theater would not accept my movie pass card - it's like somebody telling you your card declined. Embarrassing!

    This might sound all like first world problems. But it's a service I paid for, and expected to get use out of. I rarely go out of my way to write reviews, but I've never felt more like I had a duty as an American patron to save other consumers from what has become a buyers trap.

    Fresno has a local theater that charges $3 for movies that have been out a while - I guess I'll stick to that if I need to save a buck.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • Worst program ever

    • Tulsa, OK,
    • Nov 9, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I joined MoviePass based on being told it was the best way to see a movie every day of the week, and that worked for about two weeks. Then it was changed to where you could not do it anymore. Then it was changed to only three movies a week, and that never worked. I would open the app, fine a movie out of the three or four that was offered, go to the theater to log in and it would tell me that there were no showings available for the rest of the day, and this was 6:30 in the evening. So I just drove four miles for nothing and then four miles back home. I checked the app daily and got the same message, so I would check my wife’s app and the same thing.

    So the bottom line is, do not get sucked into this what I would call a scam, because it doesn’t work. I have canceled both mine and my wife’s subscriptions and could not even use it the last month, even though it would tell me I had three movies left to watch. What a joke. And MoviePass, you're welcome for the twenty bucks you got out of me for the last month of nothing for me for the money I paid you.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Used to be great, but is no longer worth it.

    • Jackson, MI,
    • Nov 4, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    When I initially joined MoviePass, it was unlimited and a lot of theaters accepted it. I loved it! Then they limited usage to three movies a month. This was a bummer, but it was still a great deal, and there were still a lot of theaters that participated. In the last few weeks, every time I would search to reserve a ticket, all of the local theaters would say that they were no more showings at that location for the day. These were theaters that had been identified buy MoviePass as participating. The only movie tickets I could reserve became unpopular films, and even those were at theaters that were 45 minutes away. I attempted to seek assistance on multiple occasions using the chat function on the app. Responses were incredibly slow (up to 90 minutes), and I never received a response that was helpful or resolved the issue.

    I canceled my membership due to the fact that I have had to purchase multiple tickets on top of paying a membership fee this month. I am very disappointed. If the membership could be restored to its previous functioning, I would be very interested in joining again.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • Buyer beware

    • Los Angeles, CA,
    • Nov 1, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Do not even consider MoviePass. For the past two weeks, at least, they have not had any movies available on at least 6 theaters near me. They tell me I have to call them and they will make a reservation. When I call, their automated system tells me their lines are busy and to try later. Same response when I try three different times later. Don't get ripped off.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Horrible!

    • Newport Beach, CA,
    • Oct 31, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    As of October 2018, this is a HORRIBLE deal! This once-bargain offering has deteriorated dramatically from its original offer.

    Get this: We live in Southern California, a paradise for movie houses. Within 10 miles of our home, there are 119 screens in 14 theaters! On Saturday evening, October 27, there were NO movies offered by MoviePass. On Monday (!), October 29, there were 5 unpopular movies available, and 3 of them were duplicated on other screens.

    Wall Street has known forever that the MoviePass business plan was unsustainable, and tons of investors have lost tons of money. An investor fix has arrived, it’s time to screw the customers.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Worst "deal" out there

    • New York City, NY,
    • Oct 28, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Without a doubt the worst "deal" out there. The company is very misleading. They changed my plan at their whim to 3 movies a month. There are very few theaters and even less films one can see in NYC. It's a total rip-off! Don't do it! They'll be bankrupt in due time. Stay away!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • Not so good

    • Murray,
    • Oct 26, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I never leave negative reviews, but I felt MoviePass deserved one. When I first subscribed it was great, maybe even a little too great! A movie every day for $10 a month. I had a great time seeing all the movies that came out.

    Fast forward to now, October 2018, and I am paying but every day it says no screenings available, so I guess I'm paying for nothing. I thought I would wait and give MoviePass a chance to get their act together, but after two months it has gotten worse! I cancelled this week. I should have a month of movies, but that's a joke. Oh well, I guess it's a program too good to be true!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Absolute scam

    • Barnegat, NJ,
    • Oct 26, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    It's a scam, bait and switch, a rip-off. Here is an example. When I tried to see a movie on Wednesday afternoon, the app directed me to a movie theater 45 miles away. At best the app worked occasionally in the beginning, and they have no customer service (none whatsoever).

    There was about a two-month period in the early Spring of 2018 where the app did work as promised then it radically changed.

    For shame that this company takes millions of subscribers $10 a month and offers nothing in return. Is this even legal?

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Not worth it

    • Flower Mound, TX,
    • Oct 23, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I joined MoviePass about 4-5 months ago and for the first 2 months, it was great. I could see a movie anytime, anywhere. Then when Mission Impossible came out over the summer, that’s when everything changed. They put all these restrictions on what movies you could see, and when and where. It was very frustrating! Here it is 3 months later and I still can barely ever use MoviePass. It’s Monday night and the theater I always go to has no movies available per MoviePass. I haven’t used my membership in a month because of all the restrictions.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Was good at first

    • Palm Beach, FL,
    • Oct 23, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    When I first got MoviePass, it was great! I got it when you could see one movie per day, every day of the month. Then it went to three movies a month, which for me was still a good deal. I had the $9.95 membership, so even if I only saw one movie a month, I was ahead of the game since a movie where I live is $10 for a matinee!

    Then they switched it up - again! This time, I lost it! I had checked the movies and times on my app and made plans with my mother who lives an hour away. I drove up to meet her. Since you can't check in to a movie until you're within a certain distance, I couldn't check in until I got to the theater. Well, I got to the theater, and the movie we wanted to see was no longer available! WTH?! This happened twice. After the second time, I immediately canceled my membership right there while standing in line!

    How are you supposed to make plans if they only allow so many movies and times per day? I do have a life, you know! Anyway, I was bummed because I really enjoyed it. I saw so many movies in the beginning! It paid for itself. Unless they go back to how it used to be, I will not become a member again.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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