Update: May 24, 2018: Don't want to wait for your MoviePass card to come in the mail? Competitor Sinemia just unveiled a new card-free option that allows members to reserve their tickets and seats ahead of time online, no plastic necessary. It's one of multiple features helping the service gain an advantage over its more talked-about rival.
This piece was originally published on May 14, 2014.
Talking about what to see with MoviePass is one thing, but in the past few weeks, MoviePass has become a topic of discussion all on its own.
Here's the backstory: Last August, the subscription movie ticket service made headlines when it announced members could go to an unlimited number of movies for just $9.95 per month. It was a game-changer that seems like it was too good to be true: The company enraged users last month when it announced they could no longer see the same movie twice, and briefly offered a "promotion" that completely replaced its unlimited offer with access to just four movies. It's also no secret that MoviePass is facing big financial losses, which means that if you like to go to the movies and not just stream them from your couch, it's time to explore your options.
Sinemia, a rival movie ticket subscription service, is MoviePass' closest competitor. (MoviePass even filed a patent infringement lawsuit against the company in February.) The service works almost exactly the same way: After signing up for a membership plan, you get a piece of plastic in the mail that works like a debit card. On the day you want to go to the movies, log in to your account on the app, pick the showtime for the movie you want to see, and show up at the theater within 30 minutes to swipe your card at a kiosk and pick up your ticket in person. (You can reserve tickets for showings up to five hours in advance.)
However, just as Uber offers perks Lyft doesn't (and vice versa), there are trade-offs depending on which service you go with. Ahead, here's how MoviePass and Sinemia stack up.
You Can't See As Many Movies
This is perhaps the biggest difference between the two subscriptions: There is no unlimited option for Sinemia, which tops off at three movie tickets per month. Right now, that offer goes for $14.99. Or, for $6.99, you can get two tickets per month. If you're a one movie per month kind of person, the $4.99 option is a good alternative to the standard $17 cost for a Fandango ticket to a nighttime showing.
Consider the fact that seven movies are being released nationwide this month. For the avid moviegoer, MoviePass is the clear winner — you're only paying $9.95 to see all seven. With the three-ticket Sinemia plan, you'll need to pay roughly $17 for each of the four additional tickets in order to see all seven, bringing your total to $65.99.
There's An Option For "Elite" Screenings
If seeing movies in 3D or on IMAX is make or break for you, Sinemia is a better option. The service's three-ticket deal lets you see any of the movies in IMAX-4DX or 3D. You can also sign up for an "elite" two-ticket membership for $9.99 to get access to these, too.
MoviePass is currently offering a three-ticket deal for $7.95 per month, in addition to its unlimited offer, but that deal does not include an option to see non-2D showings. The only added "bonus" is an extended three month trial of iHeartRadio All Access — and while it's a nice perk, who do you know that wants music streaming with their movies?
You Can Get Advance Tickets
Sinemia definitely outpaces MoviePass when it comes to buying tickets ahead. If you've ever tried to get tickets to an opening weekend showing of the new Star Wars, Marvel movie, or any other highly anticipated summer blockbuster, you likely know that tickets sell out far in advance, making it impossible to get one with MoviePass or Sinemia's same-day ticket rules.
However, Sinemia also has an option to buy tickets online up to 30 days in advance, so long as the movie takes place within your 30-day membership period. Simply go to "Planning" within the Sinemia app, tap "Advance Ticket", and select the movie and showtime. Then, go to Fandango.com, MovieTickets.com, or AtomTickets.com, and buy your ticket using your Sinemia card.
Although MoviePass offers an e-ticketing option at select theaters, it only works for same-day movies.
You Can See The Same Movie Twice
MoviePass changed its unlimited plan, which allowed you to see any movie as many times as you wanted, just in time for the release of Avengers: Infinity War. Given that it is a movie people will definitely want to see more than once, the timing of the change felt cruel.
A Sinemia spokesperson, meanwhile, confirmed that their service does allow you to see the same movie twice with the two-ticket plan, making it more appealing for those feeling bitter.
Also, even if you aren't ready to leave behind MoviePass' unlimited subscription just yet, you may be forced to do so at some point in the not-so-distant future.