It's been three years since MoviePass shut down its app after revenue couldn't keep up with its active subscribers. Now the subscription ticketing service is relaunching just as Americans return in droves to movie theaters.
Stacy Spikes, the founder and CEO of MoviePass, announced plans for a revival earlier this year after regaining ownership of the business from analytics firm Helios and Matheson, which acquired the company in 2017. A beta version is expected to roll out this week.
MoviePass will offer three membership tiers ranging from $10 to $30 per month, though users will not have access to unlimited viewings during the trial period. Starting on August 25, users will have five days to sign up for the beta version and will find out on September 5 if they made the cut. Don't expect the same old MoviePass though. The new card is black rather than red.
It also remains to be seen if movie credits will roll over month to month, something Spike hinted at earlier this year.
The relaunch comes amid a string of recent blockbuster success stories, including Top Gun: Maverick, which just crossed the $1.4 billion mark at the global box office to become the sixth highest-grossing film in history.
Trouble in Cineworld
But as one iconic movie-related company makes its return, another is faltering. Cineworld, the parent company of Regal Cinemas and the second largest theater operator in the U.S. and UK, announced that it was considering a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
"Cineworld would expect to maintain its operations in the ordinary course until and following any filing and ultimately to continue its business over the longer term with no significant impact upon its employees," Cineworld said in a statement.
Shares of Cineworld plunged 20 percent following the news, on top of an 80 percent drop last Friday fueled by rumors of the potential bankruptcy.
AMC's stock also tumbled by more than 30 percent as sentiment turned against the industry, despite commentary that Cineworld's troubles could be isolated.
"We have no indication, so far, that this is a systemic problem," Daniel Loria, editorial director at Boxoffice Pro, told Cheddar News. "There are specific issues ahead of just the regular people going back to the movies concerning Cineworld that put them in this very specific situation today."
He pointed to Cineworld's decision to back out of a deal to acquire Cineplex, the largest movie theater chain in Canada, just before the onset of the pandemic. It put the company on the hook for a staggering $900 million, and now it's in litigation to avoid that fee.
The Movie Recovery Continues
Loria also noted that the success of blockbuster films such as Top Gun: Maverick and Spider-Man: No Way Home shows that the return to movie theaters is on pace with what experts anticipated following a lull earlier in the pandemic.
"We had two [blockbusters] within a year, so I think the recovery is on track," Loria noted. "If you look at those Q2 results from the other companies in the theater industry, they've all done quite well, including Cineworld."
Hopes are high that upcoming films, including Halloween Ends, Black Adam, Creed III, Matilda, Avatar 2, Shazam: Fury of the Gods, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will continue to drive flocks of people to theaters.