MoviePass has had 'staggering' growth to 1.5 million subscribers -- and an analyst says online ticket sites must be 'shaking in their boots'

  • Movie theatre subscription service MoviePass announced it now has 1.5 million paid subscribers.
  • It hit the number less than a month after hitting 1 million subscribers.
  • An industry analyst believes the company is a “game changer” for the movie theatre business and that online ticket sites must be “shaking in their boots.”

It only took 20 days for MoviePass to go from 1 million paid subscribers to 1.5 million. And folks in the industry are starting to pay attention.

The movie theatre subscription service is having a great new year. In a time on the calendar when there’s a spike in moviegoing – with blockbusters from the end of last year like “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” still making impressive coin, plus the titles vying for Oscar consideration beginning to crop up in more theatres across the country – MoviePass is flexing its muscles.

The growth in the company since it changed to a $US9.95 per month pricing model, which lets you see a movie per day, is astounding. MoviePass, now backed by Helios and Matheson Analytics, Inc., had around 20,000 paid subscribers when the price change happened on August 15, 2017. It then rose to 150,000 eight days later. Almost a month later, it had hit 600,000 and on December 20, MoviePass announced that it hit 1 million paid-subscribers. That was a milestone that the company boasted was accomplished faster than Netflix or Hulu.

But the growth has just kept ramping up, as the company announced it had hit 1.5 million paid subscribers on Tuesday – 20 days after hitting 1 million.

Here’s a chart showing that growth:

MoviePass graphic Samantha LeeSamantha Lee, Business Insider

But even with this growth, there are still questions looming over MoviePass. The main one on everyone’s mind in the industry is whether MoviePass can be financially successful in the long run.

Currently, MoviePass pays most theatres full price for the tickets bought through its app. Since the average movie ticket price in 2017 was $US8.93, that means MoviePass stands to lose money if its customers actually go to more than one movie per month. The company hopes to mitigate this by making more deals in the future with exhibitors to get discounted tickets in exchange for promotion, and using its data to help market movies.

There is a risk to that plan, however.

“Major studios won’t like tickets on their movies getting discounted and [will] change their distribution agreements to prohibit that from happening,” Wade Holden, research analyst for S&P Global Market Intelligence, told Business Insider. “MoviePass is going to have to illustrate to the studios that the increase in admissions they are bringing to the table will actually boost box office revenue.”

But that might be starting to happen already. MoviePass has begun to find a lot of success with the art-house titles vying for award season consideration. Though numbers are still coming in on how MoviePass is affecting ticket sales, Indiewire reported that 6%-13% of opening week ticket sales for movies like “Lady Bird,” “The Disaster Artist,” and “The Shape of Water,” came from MoviePass.

“As long as MoviePass can sustain its business model in terms of turning a profit, it is on its way to being the next Redbox or Netflix in terms of shaking up the industry,” Jeff Bock, senior analyst for Exhibitor Relations, told Business Insider. “All other online ticket sales entities must be shaking in their boots. Based on these staggering numbers, MoviePass is the real deal game changer. This is the one theatrical exhibition entity that is actively growing attendance, something the industry desperately needs as evident by 2017 being the lowest attendance in the last 25 years.”

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