I’m a survivor of the great MoviePass era and I’m here to tell you my story. It's been nearly a year since I gave up my ten dollars a month subscription to the "unlimited" MoviePass program. To this day the choices I made and the blind faith I had in the system surprise me. I like to think it all started innocently enough, the concept of free unlimited movies at any theatre. No limits? No loopholes? No extra fees? It was intoxicating, to say the least, and I fell for it all hook, line, and sinker. And for a while there, it was a truly beautiful affair.
In three months I saw ten movies, and while some may think that is not the greatest example of taking advantage of the system, I have to admit that, before MoviePass, I was lucky to get myself to one movie every three months. Twelve dollars is a lot of money to spend on two hours of my time, so I relished the ability to go to a movie whenever I wasn't sure what to do with myself without having to feel stressed by the cost.
I saw movies I never would have seen otherwise like Tag and Oceans 8, movies I was moved by like Leave No Trace, ones that made me weep like Won't You Be My Neighbor, and ones that blew my mind like Sorry to Bother You and Three Identical Strangers. I also got the chance to see Isle of Dogs, Tully, and Incredibles 2 with my magical MoviePass card.
Of all these movies I can think of maybe two I would have thought were worth paying twelve bucks for, but I don't regret having seen a single one of them. I was as happy as a clam with my new life as a regular moviegoer, so happy I never thought to consider that this new lifestyle might be too good to be true.
Let me set the scene. It's noon on a Wednesday, it's raining and I have the day off of work. What do I do? Why I open my trust MoviePass app, of course, to pick out what I'll be going to see.
But something looks... different. Only two movies are available, Leave No Trace, which I had already seen, and Hotel Transylvania 3, and since I hadn't seen the first two Hotel Transylvania’s I would obviously miss a lot of the complexity. I wrote it off as a weird glitch and spent a large amount of my day closing and reopening the app in hopes that things would improve.
But they did not.
I let this tragedy drag on for a week. Every day checking and every day being met with two or even sometimes only one option. And certainly nothing I wanted to see. Admittedly I could have done some research to find out what was happening with MoviePass but, for a while, I still just wanted to hope that this situation wasn't really happening or that it would improve.
It did not.
MoviePass as I knew it was over. And it took me a full three weeks to cancel my subscription, a subscription they REPEATEDLY reminded me I would not be able to restart for a YEAR if I cancelled at that moment.
Now that I am almost a year separated from the collapse and reemergence of MoviePass as a very limited service, I do wonder why I trusted in the system so blindly. But, as I said, it was just so ideal that I let them pull the wool over my eyes and began to believe it was a brilliant strategy that must be paying off. Clearly it wasn't, and certainly, it didn't.
MoviePass still exists post-crash; it just isn't what it used to be and that is why I haven't bought a new subscription. Now an unlimited plan costs twenty dollars and there is very large small print saying, "Your movie choices may be restricted due to excessive individual usage, which negatively impacts system-wide capacity."
Which to me reads, "How's Hotel Transylvania 4 sound?"
I live a simpler life after MoviePass. I don't go to as many movies, but I also appreciate them more. Post MoviePass I feel I have a greater understanding of the way MoviePass's original plan undermined the success of theatres, art house cinemas specifically, that were often enrolled in the program without being contacted and that lost a large amount of money by essentially giving away tickets to those of us who were MoviePass holders.
I see movies as more sacred now because I saw what unlimited access can do to a person. MoviePass taught me a lot, but ultimately the most important lesson I learned was to take myself to the movies when it seems worth it because the twelve dollars are fleeting, but a good movie is forever.