The latest attempt from struggling theater subscription service MoviePass to retain its dwindling user base comes in the form of yet another change to its monthly plan. This time, however, the company is automatically enrolling lapsed former subscribers into its service, saying its choosing those users to be part of a “select test group” to try a version of MoviePass similar to its original one-movie-per-day plan.
In an email sent to select MoviePass customers who decided not to opt into the company’s revised three-movie monthly plan, first unveiled last month, the company says it’s decided to enroll those people into a new subscription because “we really hope you begin enjoying your MoviePass subscription.” If they don’t want to be charged for the service, MoviePass is demanding they proactively opt-out of the plan they were enrolled in without their consent by Thursday, October 4th.
MoviePass hit what can only as an inevitable brick wall back in July, when it basically ran out of cash, suffered a massive outage it had to borrow a loan to afford to fix, and began drastically limiting the benefits of its subscription for all users to avoid completely going under. Since then, the company has tinkered with a few different options, landing on a restriction to three movie per month for its standard $9.95 plan. Later in August, the company announced it would be further restricting not just the number of movies its customers could see in a month, but the movie selection as well. MoviePass now cycles new films in on a rotating basis and restricts certain titles in the first few weeks of release, seemingly to avoid letting its members see popular first-run films in a way that would cost it too much money in ticket stubs.
All that said, it’s unclear why MoviePass thinks lapsed users of its service would now be interested in trying a restored version of its unlimited service. The email says that the one-movie-per-day allowance is still “based on existing inventory,” which is MoviePass’ way of saying it won’t let you see anything new or remotely popular within the first few weeks of release. Being able to see 30 movies a month is useless when you can only see one movie per theater — the MoviePass app is telling me, an existing subscriber, that the only movie available to see at my local AMC theater is literally one 4:30PM PT showing of the animated film Smallfoot.
MoviePass has long had a shady reputation for how it handles cancellations, refunds, and changes to its nebulous terms of service. The company claims its TOS gives it pretty much free reign to change any aspect of the service regardless of when you subscribed or when your next billing cycle happens to be. When MoviePass realized that it had to change the terms of its subscription for its annual members prior to the start of a new billing cycle — a move that opened it up to legal action — the company tried to make amends by offering refunds or the option to transition to a paid out monthly plan.
Prior to that, members who cancelled the service in August during the period of tumultuous and seemingly non-stop service changes were automatically opted back into new plans, which the company attributed to “bugs” in its service. Even long before the troubles that began plaguing MoviePass this past summer, users have reported issues cancelling and pretty much non-existence customer service to address matters like refunds and service outages.
That said, this new move from MoviePass — while at least transparent in its blatant thirst for even just one month of addition subscription revenue — would seem to be yet another brazen overreach. MoviePass says if you choose not to opt-out, it will cancel your service and you won’t be able to sign up again for nine months, but that would seem to contradict the literal previous paragraph that reads, “Unless you opt out, your unlimited subscription will be restored.” So if you’re still an existing MoviePass subscriber or a lapsed one, perhaps it’s due time to definitively cancel and get your credit card unlinked from its mobile app for good. Otherwise, it’s unclear what the company will try to charge you for next.
Here’s the email about MoviePass’ new “select test group” in full:
In August 2018, we announced a new offering for three movies a month for $9.95, giving subscribers the ability to opt-in to this plan if they wanted to continue as a MoviePass subscriber. However, our records show that you have not yet taken any action on the new plan, and because of that your subscription was suspended and your monthly subscription charges have stopped.
Because we really hope you begin enjoying your MoviePass subscription again, we have chosen you to be a part of a select test group, who beginning Friday, October 5th will be restored to unlimited movies (up to one new movie title per day based on existing inventory) – the same subscription that you signed up for and you previously enjoyed. If you decide that you do not want this you must “opt out” before Thursday, October 4th at 9:00PM ET.
To be clear, unless you opt out, your unlimited subscription will be restored and you will begin enjoying unlimited movies again (up to 1 movie per day, based on existing inventory) at $9.95 per month, and your credit card on file will be charged on a monthly basis beginning Friday, October 5th, 2018.
If you do opt out of the restoration of your subscription to the unlimited plan, your subscription will be canceled and no longer held in a “suspended” status, and you will not be able to re-join until 9 months have passed.