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Updated on Tuesday, August 7, 2018
MoviePass is facing stiff competition as several theater chains and startups have launched their own rival theater subscription services.
All three competitors seem in their own way to directly target the biggest consumer gripes about using MoviePass — the inability to book tickets in advance, see multiple films in one day and see the same flick more than once.
To its credit, MoviePass isn’t going down without a fight. It already made a dramatic pricing change, slashing its monthly fee from $39.99 at its highest to $9.95 per month, attracting millions of new subscribers in the process. The number of MoviePass subscribers reportedly surged from about 20,000 in early 2017 to 3 million as of June 2018. Earlier this year, it reportedly sued Sinemia for patent infringement. And it recently diversified its offerings with a lower-priced subscription plan.
Cash-strapped MoviePass announced in late July it would raise the monthly subscription to $14.95 but canceled the price hike plan just a week later. Instead, it’s now keeping the $9.95 plan but limiting each member to a three-movie allowance every month starting Aug.15, 2018. For each additional ticket, MoviePass subscribers can get a discount for up to $5. MoviePass members used to be able to see up to one movie per day with the same monthly subscription fee.
For consumers, competition is almost always a good thing. Companies are forced to make their services more appealing in hopes of attracting new customers.
In this post, we will go over the benefits and limits of the four monthly movie subscription packages to help you choose the one that best fits your needs.
MoviePass vs. AMC vs. Cinemark vs. Sinemia
Fees and fine print
AMC Stubs A-List
Cinemark Movie Club
$19.95/month + tax
$7.95/month or $9.95/month depending on the plan
$3.99 to $14.99 per month for individual plans; $8.99 to $89.99 for family plans.
See up to 3 movies per week
3 movies per month starting Aug.15, 2018.
See up to 1, 2 or 3 movies per month, depending on the plan.
1 movie per month
600+ AMC theatres
339 Cinemark theaters
You can’t cancel your subscription during the initial three months of membership. After the three-month commitment, you can cancel anytime and your benefits last until the end of the current billing period.
If you cancel your subscription, you won’t be able to re-enroll or start a new subscription for 9 months. Your account will be active until the last day of your current billing cycle.
You can cancel anytime but Sinemia won’t refund you the upfront annual fee. However, you’ll be able to use your membership until the last day of your plan.
You can cancel any time you want and won’t have to wait for a period of time to reactivate your membership after cancellation. Your benefits are effective until the last day of the current billing cycle.
May charge surcharge when movies are in high demand. (peak pricing is suspended for users who’ve migrated to the new plan)
The monthly fee is actually charged upfront for the entire year. If you prefer not to make a year-long commitment, you have to make a one-time monthly initiation payment of $19.99.
AMC’s fee may seem steep, but with MoviePass adjusting pricing beginning mid-August, AMC Stubs A-List will become the most cost-effective plan for the number of movies it offers every month (12). In addition, it offers more flexibility, such as advance ticket-booking, repeated visits to the same movie and seeing more than one movie on any given day.
Cinemark might look more appealing at $8.99/month, but you can only see one film per month and you’re limited to Cinemark theaters. By comparison, though there are many limitations with MoviePass, like the one-visit-per-movie rule, it’s still one of the better deals — $9.95 — for three movies a month. MoviePass currently has a lower price plan that charges $7.95 for three movies per month. It’s unclear what will happen to this plan after Aug. 15, however. MoviePass has said 85% of its members see three or fewer movies a month, but avid users may be disappointed by the change.
If you are not a frequent moviegoer, Sinemia’s classic plan — one 2D movie per month — is by far the least expensive plan, starting at $3.99/month. But read the fine print. The service charges its fees upfront, meaning you could be on the hook anywhere from to $47.88 to $179.88/year right off the bat, depending on which plan you choose. And if you cancel your subscription before the year is up, they won’t refund you the upfront fee. For those who don’t want to make a long commitment or want to have a test run with Sinemia, you have the option to pay a $19.99 one-off monthly initiation fee, in addition to your monthly plan payment.
MoviePass recently introduced peak time pricing, meaning users will have to pay a surcharge fee — on top of their monthly subscription — for high-demand movies, depending on the specific title, date or time of day. In New York, for instance, the surcharge can be as high as $8. In order to avoid the additional cost, price-sensitive users will need to pick showtimes and locations accordingly. MoviePass said it would suspend the surcharge for members in the new plan starting August 15.
Variety of plans
AMC and Cinemark are simple with just single plan options. MoviePass has two plan options. Sinemia has the most complex offerings, with four different plans to choose from:
Classic (2D movies only)
- $3.99 (1 movie per month)
- $6.99 (2 movies per month)
Elite (all movie formats)
- $9.99 (2 movies per month)
- $14.99 (3 movies per month)
AMC Stubs A-List
Cinemark Movie Club
All formats, including 2D, Dolby Cinema at AMC, IMAX and RealD 3D
2-D movies only
Varies by plan.
2-D movies only
If you want premium movie formats, go for AMC Stubs A-List or Sinemia’s Elite packages. MoviePass and Cinemark Movie Club members can only see 2-D movies. However, with Cinemark Movie Club, you have a choice to see premium movies, such as IMAX, with some additional fees.
Book tickets in advance?
AMC Stubs A-List
Cinemark Movie Club
Yes. You can make a reservation through the AMC website or mobile app.
No. You can only reserve a same-day ticket if the app indicates e-ticketing is available in a particular theater. Otherwise, you have to book in person. A physical card is needed for ticket purchasing in most cases unless the theater supports e-ticketing.
Yes. You can book your tickets online up to 30 days in advance through the app.
Yes. Tickets can be purchased via the Cinemark app, online, or at the box office.
MoviePass might require the most hassle to reserve a ticket. First, you need to sign up for a MoviePass account online or through its mobile app. Then you have to wait for a physical MoviePass card to arrive in the mail to activate your account. MoviePass users must physically show up at theaters to buy same-day tickets with the card (unless the theater supports e-ticketing, in which case you don’t need the card) and, they have to verify the purchase each time they use MoviePass by taking a photo of the ticket stub and submitting it through the app. You can follow our step-by-step guide to use MoviePass correctly and effectively to avoid unwanted frustration.
With other services, a membership card isn’t necessarily needed for purchase tickets. Members can make a reservation in advance through the services’ websites or mobile apps or at the theater box office.
AMC Stubs A-List
Cinemark Movie Club
-Members receive the AMC Stubs Premiere benefits for free (worth $15/year+tax).
You can refer up to three friends who, upon sign-up, will get their first month of MoviePass for free.
You can get $5 for referring each friend to Sinemia. Your friend also gets the same credit reward.
-Members can receive 20% off on concession purchases.
While it’s unclear which Android phone comes with a Cinemark Movie Club membership and an additional $100 for two months of wireless services, for those who need a smartphone, the deal just comes in time.
Which subscription service is best for me?
Who MoviePass is best for
If you are a flexible moviegoer who does not mind avoiding peak time to see movies and feel comfortable going through the multiple steps to purchasing tickets, MoviePass is a more cost-effective deal for you. In many parts of the country, such as New York, where a movie ticket easily costs more than $15, you could get your subscription value back by seeing just one movie each month. If you have a taste for indie, low-budget movies, or you simply don’t frequent AMC or Cinemark theaters, you should also stick with MoviePass.
Steer clear of MoviePass if you live in a densely populated area where movies may sell out quickly. You may find it difficult to get to the theater and reserve a seat the same day.
And keep in mind MoviePass will block you from reactivating your plan or signing up for a new subscription after cancellation.
Check participating MoviePass theaters here.
Who AMC Stubs A-List is best for
Mainstream movie viewers who prefer to lock in tickets in advance — especially tickets to premieres of big releases — or have a particular liking for premium movie formats, such as 3D, may want to pay extra for the better service terms with AMC. You could also get discounts on beverages or popcorn at the concession stand. Just make sure you live in reasonable distance of an AMC theater.
Check participating AMC theaters here.
Keep in mind AMC Stubs A-List requires a minimum three-month subscription from its members, during which they cannot cancel their membership.
Who Sinemia is best for
If you only go to the movie theater once or twice a month and are willing to commit to paying an entire year’s subscription upfront, consider Sinemia, whose multi-layer pricing structure could satisfy people with different entertainment needs. For families, couples and friends who would like to see movies together, a Sinemia’s family package could also be a worthwhile investment.
See participating Sinemia theaters here.
Keep in mind Sinemia, which charges members a lump-sum subscription fee once a year, won’t refund you if you cancel your membership. If you would rather pay by month, you have to pay a $19.99 one-off monthly initiation fee, in addition to your monthly plan payment.
Who Cinemark Movie Club is best for
If you are someone who lives in a place where a movie ticket costs more than $9 and you do not like to commit to seeing a certain number of movies each month. Cinemark Movie Club allows unused credits to be rolled over. If monthly credits are used up, subscribers can also buy two additional tickets per transaction for $8.99 each. Basically, it’s an indirect way to sell a movie ticket for $8.99 that comes with some conditions. And if you happen to need a smartphone, its current sign-up deal is a steal.
Is MoviePass here to stay?
The finances of MoviePass have recently been called into question. Industry experts have suspected that the company can’t stay afloat with its unprofitable business model. MoviePass buys full-price tickets from theaters and offers them to subscribers.
In May, the company’s majority owner, Helios and Matheson Analytics, reported more than $26 million in net profit losses during the first quarter of 2018.
Because it didn’t have enough money to pay for movie tickets, MoviePass experienced a service outage on July 26, when many customers couldn’t use their MoviePass cards to purchase tickets at theaters. The company had to borrow $5 million in cash the next day to pay its merchant and fulfillment processors. This was the incident that spurred the now-abandoned plan to increase the monthly charge, through which the company hoped to reduce the monthly burn by 60%.
Helios and Matheson Analytics’ stock traded at $0.09 per share on Aug. 6, a nearly 52-week low, down almost 100% from last October’s peak of $38.86.
While MoviePass projects its subscribers to surpass 5 million by August, some analysts have predicted in media interviews that the company has a high likelihood of bankruptcy.
If MoviePass eventually proves to be too good to be true, current users should enjoy the deal while it lasts. At least alternatives are now available.