Movie theaters are hurting. According to a late-August Los Angeles Times story, this summer’s box office hit a 25-year-low, while theater chain stocks have taken a beating.
Could a Netflix-style subscription service come to the rescue? At least three are trying: Movie Club, MoviePass and Sinemia. Although they share same basic promise — discounted ticket prices — they take very different approaches to the movie theater pass model. Let’s take a look at what each service offers and see which one — if any — deserves your dollars.
Cinemark Movie Club
Price: $8.99 per month
What you get: One ticket per month; 20 percent off concessions; additional tickets for $8.99 each; unused tickets can roll over
Limitations: Cinemark theaters only; 2D movies only
Summary: Announced earlier in December by theater chain Cinemark, Movie Club offers little compared with MoviePass and Sinemia. You’re basically buying a single discounted ticket every month, with the option for additional pay-as-you-go discounted tickets. The rollover option is nice for those months when there’s nothing to see, but if you want anything other than a 2D showing, you’ll have to pay more.
Worth it? In my neck of the woods (Michigan), a single Cinemark ticket (evening show) costs $10.50. So paying $9 per month saves me only $1.50. Now, if I bring my family of four, we each pay $8.99 instead of $10.50; now I’ve saved $6. I’m also likely to save a few bucks on popcorn. That’s all fine, but it’s hardly earth-shattering, and not really enough to get me out of the house on a snowy evening. The real issue, though: There are no Cinemark theaters near where I live.
Price: $9.95 per month
What you get: A special debit card good for one ticket per day at nearly any theater; the option to see the same movie more than once
Limitations: Day-of purchases only, some requiring your presence at the theater; 2D movies only; no family or couples option
Summary:— a lot more — but the service rattled the movie industry earlier this year with the introduction of its $9.95 plan. Now, for less than the cost of a single evening ticket, you can go to the movies every single day. Upon that announcement, movie chain , and some have raised questions as to how MoviePass — which sells user data — can sustain itself over the long haul.
Worth it? If you use your MoviePass just twice each month, it affords a truly unbeatable deal on tickets — just $5 per show. Use it more than that and you almost feel bad for the theater. (Until you remember that a bucket of popcorn costs $8.) But the limitation to 2D screens — with no upcharge option if you want, say, Dbox or IMAX — will be a dealbreaker for some. And MoviePass desperately needs a couples/family plan.
Price: Starts at $9.99 per month; couples plan starts at $18.99 per month; discounts available for annual plans
What you get: A special debit card good for two tickets per month at nearly any theater; support for advance ticket purchases; support for third-party ticket processors (like Fandango)
Limitations: Only one ticket per month can be used for “premium” (3D, Imax, etc.) screen; no rollover for unused tickets
Summary: Functionally, Sinemia works a lot like MoviePass, shipping you a debit card that gets activated when you’re ready to purchase your ticket. However, this one doesn’t require you to be in close proximity to the theater, and it doesn’t limit you to 2D screens — though only one of your allotted monthly tickets can be used for premium screens. If you’re a more avid moviegoer, there’s a three-ticket option available for $14.99 per month (so $5 per ticket).
Worth it? At face value, Sinemia seems to offer less bang for the movie buck than MoviePass, but there are several key advantages: ticket purchase from home; plans for couples; and the chance to hit a premium screen each month. If you’re able to score the current promo pricing, this is probably a deal worth locking down.