This article was originally published on Aug 8, 2018.
Imagine, if you will, the follow scenario: You decide to give a child an ice cream cone topped with three scoops of their favorite flavor, whipped cream, hot fudge, sprinkles, and a cherry on top. Then, you change your mind and, one by one, take away every topping and scoop until all they're left with is a plain sugar cone. How do you think they would react? Not well? Bingo.
This is the dilemma facing MoviePass, the movie ticket subscription service that was too good to be true — until it just wasn't anymore. By now, you're probably familiar with the MoviePass woes, even if you aren't a subscriber who regularly receives one of the somber "letter to the MoviePass community" emails. Almost exactly a year ago, the company changed its $15-for-two-movies-a-month plan to an unbelievable "unlimited" plan that offered a movie a day for just $10 per month.
It seemed like the steal of a lifetime — and it was — until April, when MoviePass slowly began chipping away at everything included in that $10 plan.
First, MoviePass put the axe on repeat viewings. Then, it started "peak pricing", charging viewers more for popular, new movies. Then, it stopped offering tickets to popular movies on opening weekends. Couple all of this with unexpected outages amid financial woes, and you have the very messy situation that is MoviePass today.
Now there's a twist in the MoviePass saga: Instead of upping its price to $14.95 per month, as it told users it would do last week, the service has changed its mind again, and will now remain at $10 per month. It will, however, limit members to three movies per month beginning August 15. According to a press release, these will include "many major studio first-run films" and monthly subscribers switching to the new plan will no longer need to pay peak pricing. Additional movie tickets can be purchased through the app for "up to a $5 discount." If you're an annual subscriber, consider yourself lucky: You'll stay on the old, movie-a-day plan until your subscription is due for renewal.
Even though MoviePass is technically still a good deal, especially when you consider that the cost of a single movie ticket can near $15, it's hard to feel that way when the service has slowly stripped away its noteworthy perks and changes its policies on an almost weekly basis. Telling your consumers about the many challenges you face as a disruptor of an "unaffordable and broken" entertainment system just isn't going to cut it when you started by offering them a sundae, but now give them what feels like a near-empty bowl.