Cinema movie ticketing startup MoviePass isn’t actually dead yet, but there’s been signs for the last few months that it was fighting to stay afloat, from shutting down overnight because of a lack of funding to nuking its unlimited plan and being hit with a shareholder lawsuit over fraud.
According to The Verge, the company is now sending emails to a “select test group” of customers who didn’t opt-in to the limited three movie per month plan that it forced users onto, saying that unless users opted out of the service — something they’d already done to cancel their membership — it would be reactivating their plan on a special unlimited plan and charging them $9.95 per month.
In the email, MoviePass told users that users would be signed up for “unlimited movies (up to one new movie title per day based on existing inventory) – the same subscription that you signed up for and you previously enjoyed".” However, the existing inventory usually excludes just-released movies and many theatres are severely limited in their availability of movies in general.
MoviePass parent company Helios and Matheson posted in August that it lost more than $126.6 million in the three-month period ending June 30, 2018. These losses stem from the company’s inability to generate revenue from its subscription business and can explain why it is now being so careless by alienating the very users it should be trying to win back. The same document reported that it burned through more than $219 million in Q2 and has only $51.4 left, which is much higher than the $21 million the company was losing in May.
Furthermore, MoviePass thinks it’s perfectly fine because the users that have signed up for the service aren’t actually going to the movies more than once a month — but because the company has put up so many barriers just to see a movie, it’s unable to monetize date from user’s viewing habits. Claiming that it raised $65 million just one month prior, CEO Ted Farnsworth insisted that the company is fine and that it has never considered bankruptcy.
By forcing old customers to opt-out of a plan they didn’t agree to join, MoviePass might see a temporary influx of cash, but will leave both former and prospective customers angry at the company’s moves.