MoviePass and Sinemia are battling to sign up movie-theatre chains for custom subscriptions, as their war moves into the enterprise space

  • Movie-ticket subscription company Sinemia, a competitor to MoviePass, gave an update on its venture that lets movie theatres craft their own subscription services using Sinemia’s tech, called Sinemia Enterprise.
  • The company told Business Insider that currently more than 10 theatre chains use Sinemia Enterprise, including Studio Movie Grill and National Amusements.
  • Sinemia CEO Rifat Oguz said the reaction has been so positive worldwide that he’s launched teams in Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia to support the demand.

The movie-ticket subscription war has shifted from trying to attract theatergoers to trying to attract exhibitors – and currently Sinemia has an advantage.

In October 2018, movie-ticket subscription company Sinemia announced it would begin to offer its tech to movie theatres so they could craft their own personalised subscription plans through its software platform, Sinemia Enterprise. And that endeavour seems to be bearing fruit.

The company revealed to Business Insider that Sinemia Enterprise is now being used by more than 10 theatre chains.

Through Sinemia Enterprise, a theatre can customise its own subscription plan within two weeks, offering any ticket or pricing plan by using Sinemia’s tech, which is plugged directly into the theatre’s point-of-sale system. It can be used through iOS and Android apps, and can support any kind of plan (including couples or family) or showing (standard 2D, 3D, IMAX, or 4DX). And the individual theatre operates through its own personalised dashboard.

“Once we launched Sinemia Enterprise we had demand coming from all over the world,” Sinemia founder and CEO Rifat Oguz told Business Insider. “We are getting calls about it every day.”

Oguz said theatre chains Studio Movie Grill and National Amusements had used Sinemia Enterprise to launch subscription programs. But Oguz told Business Insider that Sinemia Enterprise is also global. The venture has grown so quickly that he’s formed teams in Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia to support the demand, he said.

“It’s a new world for them,” Oguz said of movie theatres who now have subscription services thanks to Sinemia Enterprise. “If you try to build one on your own now you will be playing catch up.”

That’s a big reason why Studio Movie Grill signed up.

Studio Movie Grill Peter Larsen GettyPeter Larsen/GettyStudio Movie Grill.

The chain, which is known for its in-theatre dining experience, launched SMG Access Subscription in the beginning of the year through Sinemia Enterprise because it wanted to get its own program to market as soon as possible.

“It was on our roadmap for a couple of years to lean into our own version of subscription,” Studio Movie Grill senior director of marketing Brandon Jones told Business Insider.

Jones said when he and his team met Sinemia in October, it became apparent that their plans could be fast-tracked.

“We had an opportunity to have subscription in the marketplace that was SMG branded in a short period of time and I didn’t want to be sitting in our office six months from now and not have a subscription program,” Jones said.

SMG Access Subscription has been slowly rolling out as an invite-only offer. Offers range from $US18.99 to see four movies per month any day of the week, to $US14.99 per month to see four movies between Monday and Thursday.

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Oguz said the biggest takeaway so far has been that every chain has different needs. Some are starting from the ground floor and are looking for Sinemia to provide everything to launch its own platform, while others have an existing subscription plan but want to use Sinemia Enterprise strictly for a specific need, like fraud detection.

“We are constantly changing the platform for the needs of the movie theatres,” Oguz said.

Oguz said all the deals it has in place with theatres are multi-year and it will be making money from either end-to-end software platform fees based on a chain’s monthly subscription volume or theatres paying for specific modules, like fraud control, business intelligence, or marketing.

And Sinemia is no longer the only game in town. Last month, MoviePass announced that it would also begin to sell its tech to theatres. But Oguz said he and his team had not crossed paths with their rival when talking to theatres.

Regardless, Jones does credit MoviePass for the subscription craze that’s hit the movie-theatre business.

“They developed a marketplace,” he said. “Subscription in movie theatres is here to stay, so we want to make sure we are offering it to our guests.”

The move to work better with exhibitors comes at a time when theatergoers have voiced their displeasure with how the companies have treated them. Both Sinemia and MoviePass have been hit with lawsuits alleging they are engaged in “bait and switch” schemes after changing pricing plans and adding fees to try and better their margins. Starting a business-to-business service is a way to control costs without angering subscribers.

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