In the face of Netflix and other formidable forces, I refuse to abandon the movie theater experience. The 20th Century Fox fanfare on the big screen makes my heart swell, the ‘‘Star Wars’’ crawl brings tears to my eyes, and don’t even get me started on how much better popcorn tastes when consumed in a plush red chair.
Frequent moviegoing is an expensive habit, so imagine my excitement when I discovered MoviePass, a service that charges $9.95 a month and allows you to see one film a day. That’s cheaper than a single ticket in most major cities. The company now has more than 1.5 million subscribers and pays the theaters full price for each ticket, hoping to eventually make money in part by leveraging the data it is gathering on subscribers.
MoviePass recently sparked a hullabaloo when it pulled out of 10 high-traffic AMC theaters in cities like Boston and Los Angeles. While one might assume it’s because MoviePass bleeds money at popular locations, CEO Mitch Lowe attributed the decision to the company’s desire to ‘‘strive for mutually-beneficial relationships.’’ AMC executives have explicitly stated that the theater chain has no intention of sharing the admissions and concessions revenue that MoviePass claims it has had a hand in generating.
Basically, mom and dad are fighting about money again, and MoviePass subscribers are caught in the middle. So here are some points to consider if you’re on the fence about signing up.
As of now, MoviePass still works at a good number of theaters.
If you live in Boston, where the most accessible theater, the AMC Loews Boston Common, is one of the rejected 10, you’ll need to look for alternatives. Same goes for those of you who prefer Landmark Theatres such as the Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge or the Embassy Cinema in Waltham. But Boston-area moviegoers can still sample theaters where MoviePass works, including the AMC Assembly Row, AMC South Bay Center, Regal Fenway, Brattle Theatre, Somerville Theatre, Capitol Theatre in Arlington, and Apple Cinemas in Cambridge. For those going there, it’s worth the 10 bucks. You can see which theaters in your area accept MoviePass at www.moviepass.com.
You have to show up in person to get tickets, so you risk a movie selling out.
After hearing folks at the office rave about a little movie called ‘‘The Post,’’ I trekked across the city and got to an AMC around 2 p.m. to purchase a ticket. Surprise! Every showing of the film was sold out for the rest of the day. That was four separate showtimes. MoviePass doesn’t let you purchase tickets online, which means you either have to get to the theater earlier in the same day to purchase a ticket, or risk it and show up right before.
The moral: With MoviePass, you must always be prepared. Guess who’s going to show up hours early to see ‘‘Black Panther”?
It’s great for solo moviegoers, but not so much if you prefer group outings.
There’s so much to be said for seeing a movie alone. You can go whenever you want to, focus entirely on the movie, and form an opinion all on your own.
Solo moviegoing also prevents you from having to bring other people into that sold-out scenario. Back in my pre-MoviePass days, two friends and I decided to see ‘‘Call Me by Your Name’’ together after months of waiting for it to hit theaters. A pair of us bought tickets online, and we arrived at the cinema about 45 minutes early so our card-holding pal could purchase hers. Alas, it was sold out.
We ended up transferring our tickets to the next available showtime and waited three hours in anticipation of Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet’s gorgeous performances. It was worth it, but just make sure to let your friends know what the deal is ahead of time.
MoviePass is another subscription you’ll have to keep track of (or not).
How many subscription services have you signed up for? Netflix, Spotify . . . hmm. Five? Six? You’re probably forgetting one. MoviePass charges you automatically, which is convenient and good for budgeting. But this could work against you if you never use it or forget you even have it.
The weirder thing about MoviePass is that it also keeps track of you. Last summer it sold a majority stake to Helios and Matheson Analytics, a data company that can draw information from MoviePass members. While the company doesn’t plan to sell that user data to others, according to Wired, it can still use it to target movie promotion via the app or e-mail. It’s all very ‘‘Black Mirror.’’
You can’t use MoviePass on 3-D or IMAX movies.
The tickets are simply too expensive for the service to afford. For people like me, this might not be an issue. I haven’t seen a 3-D movie since I watched glowing Na’vi warriors fly around on mountain banshees during ‘‘Avatar’’ and went home with a pounding headache.
But for people like Christopher Nolan, this could be a problem. If you didn’t see ‘‘Dunkirk’’ in IMAX 70mm, did you even see it? Don’t worry, the answer is yes.