MoviePass: Taking the bite out of the big screen
Subscription allows avid moviegoers to save on films
Regal Hollywood 15 Cinemas off of Dawsonville Highway, pictured on Thursday, is the only theater in Hall County that accepts MoviePass, a subscription service that allows movie-goers to watch one movie each day without paying for entry. - photo by Nick Bowman

Do you like going to the movies, but hate paying for it?

There’s a subscription service out there that hasn’t made going to the movies free, but it’s taken a bit of the sting out of getting in front of the silver screen.

For $9.95 a month, you can get MoviePass, which lets you watch one movie in a theater each day.

“The general idea was that we were looking at how entertainment was being consumed and there is this changing landscape that is much more of a subscription universe whether it be music, DVD or streaming,” said Stacy Spikes, chief operating officer of MoviePass. “It just seemed to make a lot of sense that the theatrical window has a similar opportunity that was not being utilized.”

How it works: subscribe, get the MoviePass card within 7 to 10 business days, choose a movie and showtimes on the MoviePass application, check in while at the theater and swipe the card at the box office or kiosk. An iPhone or Android phone is required to use MoviePass.

MoviePass is America’s largest theater network with more than 4,000 theaters and more than 36,000 screens. There are no blackout dates, which means subscribers can see a 2D movie every day and even go to opening-night showings.

“Tell your friends, go and enjoy it,” Spikes said.

Hall County has one participating theater: Regal Hollywood 15 Cinemas at 120 Green Hill Circle NW in Gainesville.

“There is about 91 percent of theaters that are in the system, which is basically any movie theater that accepts major credit cards,” Spikes said, noting that places such as drive-ins or dollar houses are not a part of the network.

Spikes said the reception and response to MoviePass has been “kind of overwhelming.”

“The growth rate, I have never seen anything like it. We are very happy about that and we are running to keep up with pace, kind of getting caught up with a moving train,” Spikes said. “Now everything is going pretty smoothly and we think it is going to be a pretty exciting gift for the holiday season given some of the early chatter that we have heard.”

The goal was to “reimagine cinema and going to the movies,” according to Spikes.

“I think it changed the relationship, where if I put on a movie on Netflix and I start watching it and don’t like it, I can just change it and it doesn’t cost me anything. If I go to the theater I have to make an investment of time and money,” Spikes said. “Now we at least take part of that risk away, which is customers not paying out-of-pocket for the movie. We have seen that cause people to go see the movie in a theater where before they said, ‘I will wait for when it comes out on Netflix.’ That is radically changing that point of view.”

Spikes said he believes MoviePass “can issue in a new golden age of cinema.”

“The theaters love it. There is a very engaged group that wants to do business with us and want to have a deeper relationship,” Spikes said. “I think they really get the millennial audience and get how this is shaking up engagement in their people that were saying, ‘I stopped going to the movies, I streamed everything and did Netflix.’ They are now saying, ‘MoviePass is making me want to go back to the theater.’”

Spikes said that in their research they found that “if you go to the movies one time, you will increase your monthly behavior to two times,” and the “average food and beverage spending was increased by 123 percent.”

“We know people love theaters, it was just that the relationship hadn’t come up to date with how people are having their relationships with other forms,” Spikes said. “If there is a way for us to blow people's minds even more, let us know. We love getting feedback, we love ideas of what we can do better — that is always something that is key to us.”

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