This is starting to sound like a broken record. Or a broken app? Maybe both.
It was a beautiful dream: Unlimited movies in the theater for just $10 a month; about the cost (or less than the cost) of a single ticket in most places around the country. That was MoviePass’ bold idea, and while the company has millions of customers, it has struggled to turn a profit out of a business model built on giving movie tickets to customers for less than their face value.
A few weeks ago, MoviePass introduced surge pricing, asking customers to pay a few extra bucks to see high-demand movies at high-demand times. (That’s the theory, at least. In practice, I’ve heard stories of users getting charged extra for empty showtimes in the middle of the day.) Then last Thursday, MoviePass users found that the app wasn’t working at all thanks to an outage caused by the company essentially running out of money. I’m not an economist, but that sounds bad.
After a $5 million loan, things were back to normal(ish). But now users are having even more problems trying to watch movies. If you follow any MoviePassers on Twitter you have probably seen a few of these kinds of tweets in the last couple hours:
As Deadline notes, MoviePass’ official Twitter accounts have been silent on the outage all afternoon.
All of this drama comes on the heels of the company’s stock falling back below $1 a share. Last week, MoviePass parent company Helios and Matheson tried a reverse stock split, boosting their per-share price from about 8 cents all the way up to $21. Days later, they’re back down to 78 cents a share. Meanwhile, Business Insider reports that Christopher Robin and The Meg won’t be available to MoviePass subscribers. Uh, how many times can you reverse split a stock?
It is hard to imagine the service lasting much longer in its current form. If this really is the end, MoviePass proved there is a huge demand for a theatrical subscription service, provided the price is right. For future companies hoping to make a long-term go of it in this arena though, I have to imagine the price would need to be right and above the cost of the actual tickets.
Gallery – Ticket Stubs You Can Randomly Buy on eBay: