MoviePass has gone to the dogs.
To be more specific, one dog. In its most recent email to its dwindling and irked subscriber base, the Director of Barketing, wearing a MoviePass scarf, explains “from time to time you may have had a ‘ruff’ experience with us but it turns out that I’m a dog and I can’t talk. What I do know is that I see these humans working like crazy to make MoviePass better and better for you as fast as possible.”
In the past, doggy error messages have eased customers’ frustrations for other tech companies. Take for example, Amazon’s 404 Error page featuring pooches of employees, which has been widely received as enhancing its coolness.
In MoviePass’s case however, stating that the company is “run by dogs” isn’t exactly what’s needed to assure frustrated customers and shareholders after a tumultuous year of trying and failing to keep up with huge surges in its subscription base.
With the promise of a movie a day for just $10 per month, MoviePass’s subscribers reportedly neared three million moviegoers at its peak in April this year. If you haven’t kept up with the MoviePass saga this summer during your internship, here’s an abridged version with an update on where it stands today.
June 2018: MoviePass executes a one-for-250 reverse stock split of issued and outstanding common stock.
MoviePass’s former partner AMC announced its own subscription service, Stubs A-List. For $19.95 a month, AMC customers can watch a maximum of three movies a week, and do not incur extra cost for IMAX at AMC, Dolby Cinema, and RealD 3D theaters.
Gotti, starring John Travolta, is released by MoviePass Ventures, its film-financing team, and Vertical Entertainment to widely negative reviews. The mobster film is described by the New York Times as being “the wrong answer to the question ‘What Would Martin Scorsese do?’”
July 2018: In late July, MoviePass temporarily went dark because it ran out of money to pay for tickets purchased by customers. It borrowed $6.2 million to get back online.
The outage was then followed by technical glitches, leading its stock to dive below $1 per share on July 30. In an all-staff meeting, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe proposed a price hike to $14.95 per month (from $10 per month) and pulling back on highly popular debuts (including Christopher Robin) from being available through the app.
August 2018: On August 15, the price was stubbornly kept at $10 per month, but the company newly announced that it would restrict customers to three movies a month. Previously, it had had an unlimited movie-a-day model which arguably helped reveal a whole new era of moviegoers.
After confusingly trying out other temporary tactics, MoviePass emailed former subscribers letting them know that unless they opted-in they would again be charged for the subscription.
The email states: “To be clear, unless you opt out, your unlimited subscription will be restored and you will begin enjoying unlimited movies again… at $9.95 per month, and your credit card on file will be charged on a monthly basis beginning Friday, October 5th, 2018.”
Today: In late October, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood began a fraud investigation into MoviePass’s parent company, Helios and Matheson Analytics. Underwood is looking specifically for misreported financials and whether the company had withheld key risks to the company from investors. This is coming at a time when MoviePass inevitably needs to raise more funding to continue business.
The number of subscribers that MoviePass lost over the summer has not been confirmed. Polls conducted by the National Research Group for the Hollywood Reporter, however, does reveal drastic dips in customer satisfaction, down from 83 percent “very satisfied” in April to 48 percent in late August.
Photo credit: UVA Today