Why MoviePass Wasn't Working Last Night — & What It Means For Its Future

Update: July 27, 2018: Did you have trouble using MoviePass last night? You weren't alone. Rumors that have been swirling for months finally came true: MoviePass couldn't pay their partners.
The service's parent company, Helios and Matheson, filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission revealing it borrowed $5 million. That money will go towards payments to merchant and fulfillment processors. According to CNN, a missed payment to one of those processors was the source of last night's outage, although MoviePass tweeted that the "issue is not with our card processor partners" and said it was still working on a fix.
In the meantime, the company has fielded tweets from plenty of (rightfully) frustrated moviegoers. The last tweet from MoviePass's corporate account, posted 17 hours ago, recommends users get tickets through the company's e-ticketing service, which is apparently still working.
MoviePass has been grasping at profits for months now, most recently introducing a $2 surge charge for popular films on opening weekends. Last night's outage was likely not the last, as the company's future doesn't just look increasingly murky — it looks downright dark.
Update: June 21, 2018: MoviePass keeps getting worse.
CEO Mitch Lowe told Business Insider the company will start charging users an extra $2 for popular films on opening weekend. The new charge will roll out in coming weeks.
The only good news for MoviePass members: The app will add an option to reserve two tickets at once (though you will still need to pay for the additional ticket), and a new premium option — ranging from an additional $2 to $6 — will let you see movies in IMAX or Real 3D. However, neither of those is much of a consolation prize as MoviePass's incredible deal for moviegoers begins to look less and less incredible.
Update: May 2, 2018: Well that was fast. Less than a week after announcing a new "promotion" that got rid of its unlimited movies per month plan, MoviePass has announced the original deal is back.
CEO Mitch Lowe shared the news with Wired, adding that the company will no longer experiment with removing select AMC theaters. Lowe also hinted at upcoming plans that may include 3D films, which are restricted with the current unlimited-for-$10 offer.
If you haven't signed up for the service yet, you might want to do so now. There's now telling if or when MoviePass will get rid of its unlimited deal again, but at the rate things are changing, it could happen fast.
This article was originally published on April 30, 2018.
When I signed up for MoviePass eight months ago, I shared the skepticism of many others who joined: The math didn't add up. How could MoviePass offer tickets to an unlimited number of movies per month for just $9.95, when a single ticket for a Friday night movie at AMC rings in at $15.19?
Still, when my MoviePass card arrived in the mail, I cautiously started using it and was thrilled to find that despite one hiccup — the janky app crashed one night, preventing me from checking in to a movie — it worked just fine. Better than fine, in fact: I've seen more movies in theaters over the past eight months than I saw in the past three years combined. But a question still lurked in the background of my movie bliss: How long could this last?
Now, that initial skepticism is coming back with a bite. In the past week, MoviePass has made a series of changes that hurt both new and existing users, suggesting its initial offer really was too good to be true.
First, users started noticing a new clause in the service's terms of use that prohibits — in all caps — "repeat viewings of the same movie." So, if you love Avengers: Infinity War and want to see it twice, don't expect to use your MoviePass account the second time around. MoviePass's optimistic spin on this change — "We hope this will encourage you to see new movies and enjoy something different!" — is likely to fall on deaf ears.
Under MoviePass's prior $50 per month plan, the same rule was in place. According to a MoviePass spokesperson, the decision is part of the company's "continued effort to limit fraud on our app and has been effective in doing so in the past."
Then, on Friday, some members started receiving a message telling them they need to submit photos of their ticket stub on the MoviePass app. Forget to do this more than once, and you can bid a fond farewell to your account: MoviePass will cancel it and you will not be able to sign up for another one.
Finally, if you've waited until now to sign up for a MoviePass account, you're locked out of the best part of the membership: Unlimited viewings per month. New members still pay $9.95 per month, but can only see four movies. That price also includes a premium membership to iHeartRadio All Access, which normally costs $9.99 per month. Granted, that's still a pretty good deal, even if you plan on seeing just one movie per month. But compared to what everyone grandfathered in on the old subscription gets, it looks less than ideal. Plus, do subscribers really want music with their movies?
According to a number of tweets sent to concerned users, this latest subscription change, which MoviePass is calling a "promotional offer", will not affect anyone with a current unlimited subscription. "We're continually testing various promotions with different partners, and the current iHeartRadio deal is consistent with that approach," the MoviePass spokesperson said in response to inquiry. "This does not mean that our unlimited subscription will not be offered in the future."
Still, the future isn't looking bright. With reports that MoviePass is bleeding money, it seems like it's just a matter of time before the dream of endless monthly movies is gone for good.

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