Nation & World

MoviePass hikes subscription fees

Company also limits access to some movies

MoviePass, a U.S. movie ticket subscription app, is seen on a mobile phone in this photo illustration in New York, U.S., May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Illustration
MoviePass, a U.S. movie ticket subscription app, is seen on a mobile phone in this photo illustration in New York, U.S., May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Illustration

LOS ANGELES — MoviePass, the beleaguered subscription service that once had ambitions to revolutionize moviegoing, is instead making a Hail Mary pass as it struggles to survive.

The company is strapped for cash and has introduced a series of measures that it hopes will keep itself solvent. They include jacking up the prices from $9.99 to $14.95 per month over the next 30 days, as well as limiting access to nearly all Hollywood blockbusters within their first two weeks of release.

The company’s parent company, Helios and Matheson, said these steps will reduce its cash burn rate by 60 percent.

But the company still faces major questions about its sustainability. On Friday, MoviePass borrowed $6.2 million, including $5 million in cash, to stay afloat and meet its financial obligations.

Beginning on Wednesday, its creditor can ask MoviePass to pay up to $3.1 million of the money it borrowed.

Since slashing its prices last August from as much as $50 to just under $10, MoviePass has enjoyed a surge of interest. Its subscriber rolls at the time were roughly 20,000, but by December that number had increased to nearly one million.

The company says it currently has three million customers.

MoviePass subsidizes moviegoing, paying full price for many of the tickets its customers purchase using a MasterCard-enabled device. That means it is operating at a substantial loss.

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MoviePass has maintained that it can make money by exploiting the data it collects on users and can sell advertising. It also has signed deals with some exhibitors, which has enabled them to get better deals on tickets in return for promoting their screenings.

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