• Monday, October 22, 2018
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Business Breaking

MoviePass tops 2M subscribers as cash burn accelerates

  • NEW YORK TIMES The MoviePass app on a smartphone in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Dec. 26. MoviePass offers subscribers the chance to go to the movies 365 times a year for $9.95 a month.

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The pressure is on for Hollywood disruptor MoviePass.

The startup, which allows customers to watch one film a day in a theater for less than $10 a month, said today that it has passed 2 million subscribers. But the more members the company adds, the faster it burns cash, and MoviePass has already been warned by its accountants that its long-term viability is in question.

As MoviePass directs more movie fans to theaters, the question for the company is whether studios and exhibitors will agree to share revenue from ticket or popcorn sales. MoviePass said it has yanked its service from 10 AMC Entertainment theaters because the chain won’t cooperate, while Cinemark has already started its own subscription service.

“We’re giving people a reason to go back to the movie theaters, and they’re going in droves,” MoviePass Chief Executive Officer Mitch Lowe said in a statement. “With awards season here, we hope we can make Hollywood and exhibitors very happy by filling seats with eager audiences.”

The company, which is majority-owned by Helios & Matheson Analytics Inc., pays theaters full price for tickets, which can cost $10 apiece or more. MoviePass warned in an October regulatory filing that more frequent viewing by subscribers will lead to increasing losses and the need for more financing. The company plans to earn money by aggregating data on moviegoers’ habits, advertising and merchandise sold through its platform, and possibly by gaining a share of refreshment sales.

Lowe said via email on Wednesday that MoviePass bought $110 million worth of tickets in 2017, generating an additional $146 million in ticket sales, mostly through members bringing non-members to the films. MoviePass customers apparently have good taste.

“Roughly 50 percent of the tickets purchased were for Oscar-nominated films,” he said.

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