MoviePass users are complaining that they're getting charged surge pricing even when the theatre is nearly empty

Columbia Pictures‘Hotel Transylvania 3.’
  • MoviePass earlier this month introduced peak pricing, in which users pay an additional fee for in-demand showtimes for popular movies in theatres.
  • Some subscribers are already fed up with it.
  • Users are complaining that peak pricing is occurring in the middle of the day when showtimes are not in high demand or when a theatre is not busy.
  • MoviePass says peak pricing depends on a movie and showtime’s popularity, but many users say they’re frustrated they have to pay an additional fee to see movies that have been in theatres for weeks.
  • In a statement to Business Insider, MoviePass said “We are still in testing mode with Peak Pricing, trialling different algorithms to fine-tune the feature.”

When MoviePass, the popular movie-theatre subscription service,introduced surge or “peak” pricing earlier this month, it was bound to be met with confusion and some resentment.

As Business Insider first reported in June, peak pricing occurs during high-demand showtimes for popular movies. For these showings, MoviePass users are charged an additional fee – from $US2 to $US6 – to see the movie. And no one likes to pay extra.

But some MoviePass subscribers are now complaining that the feature is too broad. Several told Business Insider that surge pricing was occurring in the middle of the day on a weekday, and these people don’t live in highly populated areas.

If you look on Twitter, even more are complaining about peak pricing:

https://twitter.com/bethie_veee/status/1020776383792832512?ref_src=twsrc^tfw

On its “frequently asked questions” page, MoviePass says: “After taking into consideration demand for a title, date, or time of day is higher, subscribers may be asked to pay a small additional fee depending on the level of demand. You can avoid this peak surcharge by choosing an alternative date or film.”

But one MoviePass user told Business Insider he didn’t believe that policy was accurate if “every single showing 12 hours before the theatre is even open is already peak.” This person, who lives in Connecticut, said that he saw Reddit users complaining about it around 1 a.m. on a weekday and that he confirmed by checking the app for his location.

It’s possible this could just be a glitch on the app, or that complaints are stemming from a lack of understanding of how peak pricing works, but it’s not an isolated incident. Many users say they’re frustrated by having to pay an additional fee for showings they describe as not in high demand.

One Reddit user in that thread said: “My local theatre is surging for a 12:50 showing for $US5.25. What the s—. It’s the middle of the workday in Kentucky … It’s not that hopping at the Cinemark I assure you.”

One MoviePass subscriber in upstate New York told Business Insider that the theatres in his area offered reserved seating and that he was able to see whether a theatre was packed before purchasing a ticket with MoviePass. He said a screenshot he provided below shows that most Thursday-afternoon showtimes at his location were at peak pricing, indicated by a red bolt (a grey bolt means a movie is almost at peak pricing):

MoviepassScreenshot

But the subscriber said the theatre for the movie he was interested in – “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” which has been in theatres for three weeks – didn’t appear to be in demand at the time he wanted to see it:

MoviepassScreenshot

In a statement to Business Insider, MoviePass said, “We are still in testing mode with Peak Pricing, trialling different algorithms to fine-tune the feature. The way MoviePass members may currently experience Peak Pricing is not representative of how the feature will function when we emerge from the testing period; for example, rarely will there be Peak Pricing during the week, outside of Thursday night previews of new releases and Friday afternoons and evenings. We appreciate everyones cooperation as we are testing and finalising this feature.”


If you have a MoviePass peak-pricing story, email the author at [email protected]

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