Exploring Sinemia and Other Movie Subscription Service Alternatives to MoviePass

(Josh Centers) #1

Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2018/08/10/exploring-sinemia-and-other-movie-subscription-service-alternatives-to-moviepass/

With the financial troubles at MoviePass making headlines, Jeff Porten reviews the competing service Sinemia, and rounds up similar subscription services offered by two theater chains.

(Ron Risley) #2

A year or two ago, Cinemark opened a brand-new multiplex a few miles from my home. All the auditoriums have reclining seats, all seating is reserved, etc. It’s a certainty that I’ll see at least one film a month at that theater, usually with a guest or two, so the Cinemark movie club made sense.

For $8.99 a month I get one free ticket and one discounted guest ticket. My teens and I prefer to see movies in the morning, so the free/discounted tickets we get are generally for shows that wouldn’t cost much more than $9 or $10 anyway. I steadfastly refuse to busy my brain with trying to game the system by reserving my discounts on the chance I might want to see higher-priced shows.

I believe (I don’t pay all that much attention) that other tickets I buy during the month also get a small discount.

There’s also a 20% discount on concessions, which shouldn’t amount to much: but even for 2-3 small popcorns 2-3x/month it adds up (perhaps more a comment on high concession prices). To claim the concession discount, I need only scan a QR code on my phone. It could be painless, but the scanners are annoyingly finicky. Next time, I’m going to try a smaller image of the code and see if it scans more reliably.

The ticket purchase process is exactly the same as if I were buying the tix on the Cinemark site, which I always did anyway, so there’s zero added hassle buying the tickets.

One easily overlooked benefit, however, is that there is no longer a “convenience fee” (my nominee for euphemism-of-the-decade) for buying the tickets on line. Since I typically buy 6-10 tickets per month, and I believe the for-our-convenience fee is $1.75 per ticket, that actually results in a substantial fraction of my total savings under the program.

It’s cheap, convenient, I don’t have to change my behavior at all to use it, and it ends up saving me a small but significant amount of money.


(jimdkc) #3

I signed up for MoviePass at just the right time in April this year. They were offering one-a-day unlimited movies for $90 a year when I signed up. No 3D or Imax, but that’s OK with me. I’m pretty close to AMC 20 and Regal 18 multiplexes, and a smaller independent 4-screen theater that all accept MoviePass. MoviePass recently imposed limits on high-demand movies, such as popular new releases (you can see them later, just not on opening weekend.) Since April, I’m sure I’ve seen enough movies (3-4 per month) to cover my $90 initial investment. If they can stay in business until next April, I’ll be happy.

MoviePass is much easier to use than what you describe for Sinema. At the theater you check into movie you want to attend in the app. Then, you use the MoviePass MasterCard debit card to purchase your ticket. An annoyance that they recently started is “Ticket Verification” where they ask you to upload a photo of your ticket stub. You cannot see another movie until you submit this verification. I usually do this after I get home from the movie, which means that I must make sure that I retain the stub (it’s a little fiddly to have to photograph and upload the stub in the lobby!)

Having not regularly attended movies in theaters for a few years, the real sticker shock was concession prices! They’ve gotten stupid, crazy high! I understand the theater’s need to make concessions a profit center, but, I’m not sure that justifies their ginormous markups! I’m not going to pay $6-8 for a $1 box of Whoppers! We usually either just forgo snacks, or go on Tuesday nights when AMC Stubs Club offers a $5 Drink + Small Popcorn deal. (You can do both MoviePass and Stubs, but you can only use your Stubs card at the concessions stand… you don’t get points for the movie itself!)

So, I’m going to try to milk MoviePass for as long as it lasts. When my plan expires or MP goes belly up, whichever comes first, I’ll probably consider AMC’s offering… MoviePass did succeed in getting me back into theaters, and I’m enjoying that!



Since we’re also talking about privacy, security and geolocation (and my thanks to Adam for posting the link to the excellent NYer article), MoviePass recently made a big change to its privacy policy. As it seems to be a rather desperate move during a barrage of awful news about the company, I think the PR people were able to slip this one in under the wire. Although MoviePass always claimed they would never sell the data they collect to third parties, they are now doing so, without notifying its consumer base:


I suspect this will also tick off movie theater owners who depend on on-screen advertising. It’s a very desperate move, I think.

(Jeff Porten) #5

I’m hoping Sinemia will be a similarly easy experience after the card arrives. Now that I’ve figured out what’s where, it’s much easier. And I really do prefer to see 3D etc., so MoviePass would have always felt like second-class service to me.

Main reason I avoid concessions is that when I get popcorn, I get the bucket so I don’t run out in the first five minutes. And that’s pretty much one of the worst things you can put in your body: it’s upwards of 3,000 calories. So it’s a once in a while thing. I’ll typically buy a Diet Coke, though, I like having a drink. (My local Cinemark also doesn’t stop me from bringing in my coffee thermos, which I might sip from. That makes me more likely to buy their drinks, not less—I appreciate the courtesy.)

Had one more wrinkle yesterday: went to a 3D show where the closed-caption device was broken and I missed most of the dialog. (Not that it really mattered, it was all about the spectacle.) Came out and asked for a pass to see it again, and they wanted to give me a refund, which would have done me no good. I got the pass, but it took a bit of arguing.


IMHO, a rather creepy use of moviePass user data:

Customers to receive a free annual MoviePass subscription when they refinance student loans with Laurel Road


I wonder if MoviePass is refinancing some of their own mountainous debt from this company? Maybe Laurel Road knocks off $10 a month for them?

(Adam Engst) #7

MoviePass is a train wreck:


Adam Engst
MoviePass is a train wreck:

MoviePass forces annual subscribers into monthly subscriptions

In an email to former annual members, the company says it’s cutting back their service options to “capture the needs of the community.”

There are also some really good memes here: