AMC Cinemas weighs blocking MoviePass deal

Chain says service hurts the industry

As on-demand video makes inroads among moviegoers, AMC Entertainment Holdings is fighting back with dinner service at some locations. Illustrates CINEMAS (category f), by Kristen Schweizer (c) 2011, Bloomberg News. Moved May 22, 2011. ( CREDIT: AMC Entertainment.)
As on-demand video makes inroads among moviegoers, AMC Entertainment Holdings is fighting back with dinner service at some locations. Illustrates CINEMAS (category f), by Kristen Schweizer (c) 2011, Bloomberg News. Moved May 22, 2011. ( CREDIT: AMC Entertainment.)

AMC Entertainment Holdings, the world’s largest movie theater chain, is considering legal action against MoviePass over its low-cost cinema subscription, saying the service is unsustainable and bad for the industry.

MoviePass on Tuesday dropped the price of its monthly theater pass to $9.95 a month from $30 or more, offering consumers admission to one show every day at any cinema that takes debit cards, excluding Imax and 3-D screens. The company plans to pay exhibitors full price.

AMC, which charged moviegoers an average of $9.33 a ticket last quarter, said in a statement it’s consulting with lawyers about barring the service in U.S. theaters. The company said the plan was setting up consumers for disappointment if or when the product can no longer be fulfilled.

“While AMC is not opposed to subscription programs generally, the one envisioned by MoviePass is not one AMC can embrace,” the Leawood, Kan.-based exhibitor said.

MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe called the AMC statement “bluster” and said that the only way the theater chain could refuse to work with MoviePass would be to decline the MasterCard debit cards that MoviePass subscribers use to buy tickets. The cards link to accounts controlled by MoviePass and are used to pay for tickets at full price.

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