The End of the Affair: MoviePass

It was fun while it lasted, right? I remember being somewhere with Josh Viola, and he asked had I heard about this cool “MoviePass” service. I hadn’t, but twenty minutes later I had the app, and the card was en route. It was a nice few months. In California, staying at a hotel across from a cineplex for a few days, I saw a movie on my MoviePass card every single night, almost (long stay). Stuff I wasn’t even interested in, but that would nearly have to be better than whatever was on the television in the hotel room.

One thing I noticed when using MoviePass, which I think was good for the movie industry (as a financial concern, not as a quality-generating entity), was that my standards kind of lowered. Sitting through a movie that wasn’t quite cutting it, I could do the math, think I’m paying maybe a dollar for this, which made the movie hurt less. 

These past couple months, though, I keep hoping Funny or Die or CollegeHumor will rig a sketch together, of how insane it must be at a MoviePass meeting when they’re trying to dream up new policy that can keep this foundering ship afloat. There’s some comedy gold, there. However, being a subscriber, it wasn’t quite so funny.

As for why I finally just cancelled: it wasn’t the throttling back to three movies per month. That’s still a good deal. It’s that, with the obscure data driving screening availability, I started to feel like my dollars were being sold—that MoviePass was gouging the distributor or studio or SOMEone to make only their movie available. It didn’t feel honest anymore. Well, I should say: when it felt like I was getting a great deal, a steal even, I was fine with it. But when it felt like I was part of something that was maybe hiding movies whose people weren’t playing the game, that was my line. I mean, sure, take me to a buffet, I’ll try to eat twice my money’s worth. But show that the people in the kitchen aren’t being treated right and I’ll hopefully reconsider.

Too, it’s just convenience, right? With MoviePass making you be within X-hundred yards of the venue to check in, you were resigned either to poor seating or to getting there ridiculously early. For me, a forty-five minute bike ride away from the theater, that’s something of a challenge, especially since my Cinemark no longer allows backpacks—safety concerns—meaning I couldn’t bring reading material. And, with the new and inscrutable randomness of screenings, I’ve found that often a movie will be available for check-in when I start pedaling, then be out of the running once I’m there.

Also, I was just bummed to have to wait so long to catch the current Mission Impossible. I finally gave up, did it the old fashioned way. Which, I mean: it felt kind of honest. Likely I’ll sign up with Cinemark’s $8.99 plan, as it’s got e-ticketing. It’s not the all-you-can eat set-up movie pass had, but it’s part of the weaning process anyway. And I don’t think it really hurts anybody or endangers any movies.

This isn’t to say I won’t likely jump on the next pie-in-the-sky too good to be true movie subscription service. Just, I’ll make sure it’s month to month, and I can cancel when the sky starts falling.

I won’t stop going to the movie theater, though. For two hours, I can dream sitting up, and nobody can reach me by text or email. It’s a sensory dep tank all my own, with a finger of light reaching for the wall, telling me a story I’m completely ready for.

Author: SGJ