I love going to the movies, but it’s expensive. In New York, it costs about $US15 a ticket.
That’s why I decided to try MoviePass, a subscription service that lets you see one movie a day in theatres for a fee of $US30 to $US35 a month, depending on where you live.
More than 3,700 theatres in the US participate, including all major movie theatres. You can only purchase one ticket at a time, and it doesn’t apply to 3-D and IMAX movies.
It’s pretty simple to use. You subscribe, download the app, and receive a credit card in the mail. When you’re ready to go to the movies, you check in to the showing you want through the app and swipe your MoviePass card at the theatre to get your ticket. After 24 hours from a movie’s start time, you can see another one.
I’ve been using it for the past five months, and I’ve seen 15 movies. If I had paid out of pocket, it would have cost about $US225. But with the subscription I paid $US175, a savings of $US50. At this rate, my annual savings would be $US120.
If you were really a movie fanatic and stretched the service to its upper limit, in theory you could see a movie a day for a year and save more than $US5,000 at the New York box office.
Of course, there are some downsides.
In order to save money, I have to see at least three movies a month. During some of the past five months I didn’t have as much time to go to the movies or there weren’t that many I wanted to see. However, I’ve realised that if I take a broader perspective, say quarterly or annually, I still net a savings because some slower months balance out the busier ones.
More importantly, you have to commit for a full year, and if you cancel early, you’re hit with hefty cancellation fees. You’ll pay $US75 to cancel in month two or three, and the fee decreases from there depending on how long you’ve been using the subscription.
I also ran into some problems with the app itself, but MoviePass handled them pretty quickly. Towards the beginning, an update to the app temporarily barred me from checking in to a movie. I paid out of pocket, and MoviePass refunded the price of my ticket. Another time, the showtime I wanted wasn’t showing up in the app, and after a five-minute wait to talk to customer service, a MoviePass rep manually checked me in.
Because I’m a big movie-lover and go to the movies regularly, it’s been a good deal for me so far. Besides the savings, it’s helpful from a budgeting perspective to know exactly how much I’ll spend on movies each month. I’ve also felt more freedom to try movies that, previously, I might’ve thought looked interesting but didn’t want to risk $US15 on.
MoviePass is not for everyone. Subscription services like this make sense if you would buy the product anyway, but the monthly fee and annual contract might make you feel pressured to go to the movies more than you otherwise would.
At this point, I’m not sure if I’ll renew after my first year is up, but I’ve certainly had fun going to the movies.