MoviePass may fail, but it changes the movie for the better.
Big theatrical chains like AMC Theaters and boutique cinemas like Alamo Drafthouse are experimenting with subscription platforms that make it more affordable to make regular films. Others, such as Regal Cinemas, have talked about testing demand-driven pricing that would make it cheaper to attend out-of-peak movies. This kind of innovation would have been hard to imagine a decade ago.
Since the 1970s, little has changed in the way films are sold in the US. For blockbusters such as Star Wars as well as for arthouse films like Call Me By Your Name theaters still demand the same price.
Even the price has not moved much. In 1
Subscription services, such as MoviePass, allow moviegoers to access movie hosts every month for a low monthly fee. MoviePass charges $ 10 a month to watch a movie a day at most theaters in the United States. AMC Stubs A-List charges $ 20 a month for three films a week at its sites. "It's the biggest change in the history of ticket prices," said Barak Orbach, a law professor at the University of Arizona who has done extensive research on the film industry (paywall), Quartz said. 19659002] The switch to subscription services is part of a revolution that began more than a decade ago when DVDs, on-demand videos and streaming services like Netflix made it easier to watch movies at home than in movies. The cinemas began to look for ways to make the cinema experience better than at home.
IMAX presented an opportunity in the early 2000s when it brought its system of high-definition cameras and digital projectors from multiplexed museums, Daniel Loria, editorial director at Box Office Media, said Quartz. Studio Warner Bros. scored the first IMAX hit in 2004 with The Polar Express. Five years later, 20th Century Fox showed how 3D, another burgeoning film format, could look as if it were made with Avatar the most successful film ever made. Other digital film formats and projection systems, such as Dolby Cinema and 4DX, have evolved over time to replace the analogue projection systems that worked perfectly in cinemas of the last century, bringing new experiences to moviegoers.
More for these high-end formats, marks a pseudo-return to the early days of Hollywood when ticket prices vary by film. This practice was killed by a famous 1950s anti-trust case against Paramount which broke up monopolies between film producers and film distributors to keep them from fixing the ticket price. Other factors, such as the rise of television, also helped to kill the habit, as Orbach described in his 2004 paper "Antitrust and Pricing in the Film Industry." The 1972 film The Godfather was the first "event" movie to open at regular ticket prices, Orbach wrote.
In the 2010s, US theatrical chains began to borrow innovations from other markets around the world, Loria said. They introduced the concept of reserved seating, which was available in many parts of the world before it came to the United States, as well as alcohol and food service. Luxury theater companies such as iPic also emerged as cinemas began to sell moviegoers on a higher and more expensive experience.
Subscription services like MoviePass are the next phase in this revolution. They give moviegoers who can not afford or want these high-end experiences are reason to go to the movies.
"That's an explosion, that's it, and if they talk about it in 50 to 100 years, they'll talk about that moment when they talk about price changes," said Jeff Box, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations , opposite Quartz. "I do not think we've seen anything atomic since movie tickets were tracked."