“It was a contributor to the specialty box office, and I hope it will be again,” says Laemmle CEO Greg Laemmle of MoviePass, the subscription service that unsurprisingly went bankrupt in early 2020 after offering a movie a day for ten bucks a month.
A co-founder Stacy Spikes, who was pushed out amid strategic differences with new owners, including the $9.95 plan, acquired the assets out of bankruptcy in 2021. He relaunched MoviePass yesterday after months of beta testing. The movie-a-day-plan, which left the service subsidizing most tickets, “was never going to work,” Sikes tells Deadline. AMC had actually threatened to sue, saying the plan wasn’t sustainable and set consumers up “for ultimate disappointment down the road.” Its bankruptcy filing listed more than 12,000 subscribers it may have owned money to.
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The new MoviePass has four tiers from $10 for 1-3 movies, to a limited availability $40 plan with 30 movies a month. Each plan also carries a specified number of credits, a new feature. So “On Friday or Saturday night you [use more credits] than a Tuesday matinee,” says Spikes. The old program didn’t differentiate, treating all tickets the same. Plans are for 2D standard screenings. They cost more in NY and LA. Tickets can only be reserved day of show.
Customers sign up through the MoviePass mobile app where they can buy and book seats for MoviePass partner chains directly. The company does’t list the names of its exhibition partners to date but the nation’s three biggest circuits AMC, Regal and Cinemark, are not on it. Tickets for their theaters, or any cinema in the U.S. that accepts Mastercard, can be booked via MoviePass but must be purchased (within 20 minutes, as previously) at the cinema with a MoviePass Mastercard debit card the company sends subscribers.
Structural elements, like same-day purchase, meant MoviePass ended up giving a disproportionate boost to specialty film, which is recovery more slowly that the broader box office and needs all the help it can get. The service won’t move the needle on Spider-man” or big tentpoles, Sikes said. “But people are more likely to take a risk on arthouse titles.” He’s been fielding questions from smaller exhibitors, assuring them that payments are immediate, pulling directly “from our account to pay the theater when a person buys a seat” and that they take varying ticket prices into account.
MoviePass said it accumulated an 800,000-person waiting list during beta testing. How many will activate in a post-Covid theatrical landscape with a deal that’s not too good to be true.
Specialty openings: Widest this weekend on 900 screens, Nicole Holofcener’s (Walking And Talking, Friends With Money, Enough Said) comedy You Hurt My Feelings, from A24, starring Julia Lous-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies. Premiered at Sundance, 96% Certified Fresh with critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Deadline review here. Louis-Dreyfus, a popular writer, and her husband Don, a well-liked teacher, see their irritatingly happy marriage start to crack when she discovers that he’s been less than candid about his opinion of her work.
Expected to land between $800k-$1.4 million over the four-day weekend, this is older than the typical A24 film with comparables like Moving On, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, The Outfit, and Mr. Malcolm’s List.
Quiver Distribution presents The Wrath of Becky by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote on 200 screens. With Lulu Wilson, Seann William Scott. A sequel to Quiver’s 2020 horror-thriller Becky. Living off the grid and trying to rebuild her life two years after she escaped a violent attack on her family, Becky finds herself going toe-to-toe against the leader of a fascist organization on the eve of an organized attack. Premiered at SXSW Midnighters section.
Kino Lorber opens documentary Close to Vermeer by Suzanne Raes on four screens, expanding in coming weeks. Behind the scenes of the largest Vermeer exhibition ever mounted, now on view at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, that capturing the imagination of the art world with glowing reviews, global publicity and tickets sold out through the entirety of its run. The film follows curators, conservators and collectors in their mission to shine a new light on the elusive Dutch Master.
Strand Releasing presents Will-o’-the-Wisp, a Portuguese gay musical by João Pedro Rodrigues with Andre Cabral, Joel Branco, Mauro Costa. Premiered at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight last year, screened at TIFF and the New York Film Festival. Opens at the IFC in New York, adds Brooklyn and LA next weekend. On his deathbed, his royal highness Alfredo, king without a crown, recalls his distant youth and dreams of becoming a fireman.
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