MoviePass is dead: These are the best alternatives
Should you try AMC Stubs A-List, Cinemark Movie Club or Regal Unlimited instead? Here's what each movie subscription service has to offer.
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Well, it's official: After years of more twists and flips than a Cirque-du-Soleil trampoline performer, the MoviePass discount-ticket service shut down for good on Sept. 14. What was once heralded as a potential savior of movie theaters is now the stuff of Silicon Valley legend. Meanwhile, competitor Sinemia abruptly shut its doors back in April.
Now what? If you still crave the big-screen experience but don't want to pay the exorbitant prices, are you out of luck? Nope: A few movie-subscription services are left standing, each offering a similar flat-monthly-rate option for enthusiastic moviegoers. Let's take a look at AMC Stubs A-List, Cinemark Movie Club and Regal Unlimited and see which one, if any, deserves your dollars.
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AMC Stubs A-List
Price: $19.95 plus tax; price may be $2-$4 higher in certain locations.
What you get: Three tickets per week for any format (Imax, 3D and so on) and all the benefits of an AMC Stubs Premiere membership (including 10% off food and drink). Up to three out-of-state tickets per year.
Limitations: AMC theaters only, which can be found in 34 states. Requires a three-month commitment. There's no bring-a-friend or family option. No Stubs points earned for tickets booked through A-List.
Worth it? Even if you live in a city that has a higher monthly rate (in Los Angeles, for example, it's $23.95), the value proposition remains high: For the price of about two tickets, you can see as many as 12 movies per month. The support for 3D, Imax and other premium showings is definitely a plus, but for now you're stuck paying full price if you want to add a friend or family member. The bigger question: Do you live near an AMC theater?
What you get: One ticket per month, 20% off concessions, additional tickets at member pricing. Unused tickets can roll over.
Limitations: Cinemark theaters and 2D movies only.
Summary: Announced in late 2017 by theater chain Cinemark, Movie Club doesn't really measure up to Stubs A-List. You're basically buying a single discounted ticket every month, with the option for additional pay-as-you-go discounted tickets. The rollover option is useful for those months when there's nothing to see, but if you want anything other than a 2D showing, you'll have to pay more.
Worth it? In my neck of the woods (metro Detroit), a single Cinemark ticket to an evening show costs $10.50. So paying $9 per month saves me only $1.50. If I bring my family of four, we each pay $9 instead of $10.50; now I've saved $6. I'm also likely to save a few bucks on popcorn. That's all fine, but it's hardly earth-shattering, and not really enough to get me out of the house on a snowy evening. The real issue, though: there are no Cinemark theaters near where I live.
Price: $18-$23.50 per month, plus tax, for access to 200, 400 or 500-plus Regal theaters.
What you get: Unlimited tickets to see as many movies as you want, as many times as you want, whenever you want (no blackout dates) -- at participating Regal theaters. You also get 10% off concessions and a free popcorn and soda on your birthday.
Limitations: Requires a minimum one-year commitment. Surcharges apply for premium seating, upgrades (such as 3D and Imax) and lots of other circumstances.
Summary: The newcomer to the group, Regal Unlimited arrived in July. It's the most MoviePass-like service you can find right now, with almost no restrictions on your ticket options. If you want to see The Rise of Skywalker twice a day, every day after it opens, have at it. As with MoviePass, however, the question is whether this model is sustainable. It would come as little surprise if Regal suddenly started imposing limitations.
Worth it? Even with the one-year commitment and lengthy list of possible surcharges, Regal Unlimited is currently the single best value for cinephiles. For about the price of two tickets per month, it allows for unlimited visits to the multiplex. And with over 500 theaters nationwide, there's a good chance you live near one.
When it comes to choosing a movie-ticket subscription service, it all comes down to geography. If you live close to an AMC theater, AMC Stubs A-List offers a good value. But if there's a Regal nearby, Regal Unlimited offers considerably better value for about the same price (though you'll pay more for things like 3D showings).
As for Cinemark, its barely discounted one-ticket-per-month plan may be the most sustainable of the three, but it offers little to really excite movie buffs.
Finally, if you have an Alamo Drafthouse theater nearby, you might be able to hop onto its Alamo Season Pass service, currently in beta. Pricing on that service varies right now since it hasn't officially launched, but anyone interested in trying it out can get added to a waitlist. For now, those living near the Yonkers, New York Alamo can guarantee their way onto Season Pass at $19.99 per month, a rate that allows for one movie a day. A $1.99 surcharge applies for 3D films as well as online convenience fees.
What do you think? Have you tried any of these services? If so, tell us about your experiences!
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