MoviePass Is Limiting Tickets and Hiking Prices as It Struggles to Hang On

The subscription movie app’s survival seems like Mission: Impossible.

Paramount Pictures

If MoviePass always seemed a little too good to be true, that’s because it apparently was. 

On Tuesday, the subscription movie service announced plans to raise prices by 50 percent and make it harder for customers to see new movies in the first two weeks after their release. 

Both moves are part of a plan to keep MoviePass afloat after a rough week that saw users repeatedly unable to get tickets and a tumbling stock price for parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics.

The trouble for MoviePass is the same as it’s always been: While customers pay only $10 a month (that’s soon going up to $15-a-month) for unlimited movie tickets, the company is paying theaters face value for each individual ticket. That’s wildly expensive, and it’s led to some bad experiences for movie-goers, like being shut out of Mission: Impossible – Fallout last weekend.

The company’s rate hike and limitations on popular movies comes after other moves it’s made to cut costs, such as surge pricing, which results in customers being charged an extra two to six dollars to see particularly popular movies at high-traffic showtimes. The surge pricing was introduced earlier this month, but as many people quickly found out, MoviePass was sometimes charging higher prices even when theaters were virtually empty.

In a statement released Tuesday, MoviePass claims that limiting the ability of users to go to major, blockbuster films in the first two weeks is about both saving money and sticking to its mission “to enhance discovery, and to drive attendance to smaller films and bolster the independent film community.”

But it’s not clear that users want that, especially with MoviePass no longer the only game in town. It was only last month that AMC launched its own subscription service, called Stubs A-List, and it’s already signed up 175,000 users. The service costs $20-a-month and allows users to watch up to three movies each week. 

Among the movies available to A-List subscribers last weekend? Mission: Impossible – Fallout.