THOUGHT | Cinema Subscriptions – Reconsidered

    Subscribing for unlimited access to movies at your local cinema is not a new concept. In an intense world of competition, cinemas and SVODs profits are increasingly being squeezed. Yet there are several key players aiming to bridge the gap between cinema and the SVOD market and we take a look.

    There is a new kid on the block in the USA. MoviePass is offering unlimited access to over 90% of cinemas within the USA, for only $10 a month. The service offers customers a great way of consuming more films, the producers get additional revenue and cinemas have additional opportunities to make concessions.

    Industry experts are calling out MoviePass on its sustainability for the business. It previously charged users $40 a month for the same service, but never grew exponentially, until is slashed its subscription price to a quarter. Crucially, this price puts it in direct competition with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, but it has been reported that MoviePass has to fork out x4 of their cash revenues per subscriber. Such a large loss surely cannot be sustainable.

    When the world is becoming increasingly more convenient, the cinema business must attract consumers back from their TVs for films. The film industry has always been proactive in supporting the cinemas and their business. When TV became popular in the mid-20th Century, the film industry counteracted this with new widescreen formats. When TV caught up with this, cinemas became the hone of great visual effects, but as this becomes increasingly cheaper for TV shows to include, the next technological advancement must come soon. With even more forms of media available to consumers, the choice for them becomes harder, and the competition for their custom more intense.

    Cinemas have long been a integral part of society for over a century now, but as films become more easily accessible from the comfort of your sofa, where does the industry go from here? Subscriptions certainly offer a great benefit. Equally, several cinema chains are teaming up with local restaurants with offers for an entire night out – food and film all rolled into one package. Leading Canadian cinema chain Cineplex has exclusive partnerships – pay for a discounted cinema ticket when paying your restaurant bill.

    The industry is certainly looking at many ways to boost attendance to cinemas, through offers and rethinking subscriptions services. Yet, is the subscription service enough to provide that boost cinemas need? When key players at major cinema chains have been calling MoviePass unsustainable and looking to ban the card itself, clearly they don’t believe this will be successful. What will be crucial is both film and exhibition industries to work to increase attendance. Cinemas still have the exclusive see-it-now movies, but this is becoming a major area of competition too, with SVODs increasing their original production budgets and signing high-profile stars for films and series. The industries have always been able to adapt to new competition and knowing that, the exhibition side of film will continue to maintain its status within society.