MoviePass has risen from the dead — and it’s after your eyeballs.
The subscription movie ticket service will relaunch this summer, nearly three years after it shut down in 2019. CEO Stacy Spikes announced the news Thursday at a press event in Manhattan.
MoviePass’s new subscription service will no longer include unlimited movies, but will instead feature a tiered subscription structure, Spikes explained. Similarly to fitness startup Classpass, customers of MoviePass will purchase credits that can be redeemed for movie tickets.
However, Spikes demonstrated another way for customers to earn credits: by watching advertisements and having their eyeballs tracked.
MoviePass subscribers will earn credits for watching advertisements on their phones via a feature called “pre-show.” The app will track users’ eyeballs to ensure they are indeed watching, Spikes explained.
“What it does is it establishes a transaction between you and the brand,” the CEO explained, dressed in a black turtleneck and pacing the stage in the Steve Jobs-like fashion.
“Your phone, your device, makes use of your facial recognition,” Spikes continued. “It does not go to the cloud; nobody except you and your information in yours goes through it.” And you choose to do it independently.”
He portrayed the “pre-show” segment as a continuation of product placement in films.
At a press event on Thursday, Stacy Spikes demonstrated the new version of MoviePass.
Featured image courtesy of MoviePass
“I’m a sucker for product placement in films,” Spikes explained. “I adore automobiles, wristwatches, and clothing. I’m that person who occasionally carries a notepad and scribbles, is that Hugo Boss?”
MoviePass’s new credit system will require more credits for in-demand films at peak times, while matinees of less popular films will require fewer, Spikes explained. He stated that the system would assist in filling theatres on slow days.
When The Post inquired about the cost of credits and the differences between the “tiered plans,” a MoviePass spokesperson declined to comment.
MoviePass shared images of its new app during Thursday’s event. Courtesy of MoviePass In its original incarnation, MoviePass offered customers unlimited movie tickets for just $10 per month — a money-losing strategy that drew over 3 million customers but ultimately bankrupted the company after it lost over $100 million in a single quarter.
Moviepass first hinted at a relaunch in November, when Spikes purchased the company in bankruptcy court for a pittance of $14,000. In late 2021, he stated in court filings, the company would test a “new proposed business model with a sample group of 1,000 customers.”
The filings did not detail the new business model, but they did indicate that Spikes intended to relaunch MoviePass in its entirety in the fall or winter of 2022.
The unlimited version of MoviePass folded in 2019. SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett Spikes was founded in 2011 but gained traction in 2017 after being acquired by Helios and Matheson Analytics, a data analytics firm. That was the year the company launched its $10 unlimited movie ticket deal, which accelerated its growth.
Spikes claims that at the time, he questioned the app’s $10-per-month model’s viability and was fired by the app’s new owners in 2018 as a result of his concerns.
“There was a significant difference in opinion about how the company should proceed,” Spikes explained during Thursday’s presentation. “And we are all aware of what transpired following that.”
Stacy Spikes Getty Images
MoviePass eventually folded after customers abused the business model by binge-watching the same films repeatedly, purchasing tickets for friends and family who did not subscribe to the service, and in some cases, purchasing a movie ticket simply “to use the restroom in Times Square,” Ted Farnsworth, then-CEO of Helios and Matheson Analytics, told The Post at the time of the company’s closure in 2019.
Adding to its woes, movie theatre chains such as AMC and Cinemark began rolling out their own subscription-based ticketing services, forcing MoviePass to increase its fees for the biggest films and prime time slots. It ceased operations indefinitely in September 2019, with its parent company declaring bankruptcy four months later.