MoviePass Planning A Relaunch

MoviePass, the short-lived service that allowed fans to pay a monthly flat rate for unlimited trips to participating theaters (with some caveats), is planning on mounting a comeback now that the covid-19 pandemic has reshaped the theatrical landscape and left studios and audiences wondering what the future of the movies even looks like. MoviePass cofounder Stacy Spikes was granted ownership of the company by a Southern District of New York bankruptcy court judge, purchasing the brand for an undisclosed amount from Helios and Matheson Analytics, the former parent company of MoviePass, who are currently in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings.

MoviePass was launched in 2011, but really rose to prominence in around 2017 as they started to get more of the big theater chains on board. However, their model proved unsustainable, and in 2020, they stopped operating. Most observers thought it was a good concept, but that the company was asking too low a price point in order to attract a broad subscriber base.

"I can confirm that we acquired MoviePass out of bankruptcy on Wednesday," Spikes told Business Insider in a statement. "We are thrilled to have it back and are exploring the possibility of relaunching soon. Our pursuit to reclaim the brand was encouraged by the continued interest from the moviegoing community. We believe, if done properly, theatrical subscription can play an instrumental role in lifting moviegoing attendance to new heights."

Spikes is keeping quiet on the specifics of a plan to return, and wouldn't say exactly how much he paid to reacquire the company, although he did apparently confirm it was less than the $250,000 starting bid that Helios and Matheson representatives were hoping for when the bankruptcy began.

Almost immediately after MoviePass went out of business, there were rumors it would return in some form. In March of this year, a mysterious timer appeared on the company's website, but it turned out to be an elaborate prank by members of a Discord server who shared the media coverage of the "relaunch" with glee.

In June, Helios and Matheson settled with the Federal Trade Commission after it was discovered that one of the things they attempted in the later days of MoviePass was installing "tripwires" meant to make it more difficult for subscribers to actually use their MoviePass account. These ranged from an unnecessarily complex ticket-verification requirement, to faking "suspicious activity" on users' accounts and freezing them until they contacted support. There were even reports that MoviePass was changing the passwords of frequent users to create a delay at the box office, during which the user might feel pressured to just buy the ticket and move on.

"MoviePass and its executives went to great lengths to deny consumers access to the service they paid for while also failing to secure their personal information," said Daniel Kaufman, the FTC's Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. "The FTC will continue working to protect consumers from deception and to ensure that businesses deliver on their promises."

Keep your eyes on ComicBook for more news on a potential return of MoviePass.