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MoviePass: Is $10 a good deal for near-unlimited movie tickets?

For $10 monthly, you can hit the movie theater as often as once per day. Worth it? The Cheapskate weighs in.

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With MoviePass' $9.95/month plan, you can see a movie -- in a theater -- every single day. Only the popcorn costs extra.


Oh, great: another subscription.

What with Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Spotify and so on, I'm not about to sign up for yet another... hang on. MoviePass lets me do what?! For how much?!

That was my reaction upon learning that, for $9.95 per month, I can hit my local movie theater as often as once per day. I can literally see 30 movies in a month for the price of one ticket.

Mind. Blown.

What the heck is MoviePass?

MoviePass made headlines a few years back with this Netflix-like idea of all-you-can-watch movies, but the price tag was significantly higher: $50 per month. The math had the potential to work in your favor, but only if you saw at least 4 to 5 movies each billing period -- probably not realistic for most folks.

This huge price cut feels like a game-changer. But, OK, reality check: Is it really a good value? Surely there are catches aplenty. And it's not like I have time to watch a movie every single day, even if I wanted to. Heck, I'm not sure there are more than a few movies I even want to see in a typical month. So is this thing a deal or not?

Let's do the math

Yeah, it's a deal. A ridiculously good deal. So good, in fact, that back in August, AMC Theaters immediately started pushing back -- though I'm not sure why. Everyone knows theaters make the most money from concessions, and if MoviePass brings a lot more people through the door, they'll buy a lot more popcorn and soda. In fact, maybe they won't balk so much at the ridiculous prices, seeing as their tickets were so cheap.

For the customer, the math is gorgeous: If you see just two movies per month, it's like getting tickets for $5 each. See four movies, $2.50 each. You get the idea.

What's the catch? 

For the moment, you're limited to no-frills, 2D viewing -- no 3D movies, no Imax, no D-Box or anything else that would normally involve an upcharge.

Also, you can't buy your tickets the day before, and unless the theater offers e-ticketing, you can't buy a ticket via the app: You have to actually go to the theater and hope the showing you want isn't sold out. (Find out more about all this in CNET's overview of how MoviePass works.)

Finally, there's the question of friends and family. Sometimes it's just my wife and I; sometimes we take the kids. So do I buy four subscriptions or just two? What if it's guys' night out and everybody wants to see "Justice League" in Imax? Now I've got to pony up full price, or try to talk them all into slumming it on the small screen.

These are, of course, first-world problems. MoviePass is a killer deal, something that could make the company synonymous with Netflix. Is it sustainable? That remains to be seen.

Oh, I forgot the really bad news: A tub of popcorn will still cost you $8. (Gasp! Million-dollar idea: PopcornPass. Mine! Trademarked!)

Postscript: Why I decided to ditch MoviePass

Most of the preceding was written in August. Here in December, I've been a MoviePass user for nearly four full months. Number of times I've actually used it: three. So I'm just about breaking even, and will definitely do so as long as I see at least one movie this month. (It'll be "The Last Jedi," duh.)

Even so, I've decided not to continue my subscription. The very simple reason? I just don't go to the movies enough. That's partially because of time constraints, and partially because there's not much I want to see. During those four months, I really wanted to test-drive MoviePass as much as possible, and I thought the value equation would get me to the theater more often. Reality: I could rarely find a movie I was interested in. 

What's more, I almost always go with my wife, and frequently take the kids as well. MoviePass needs some kind of family plan, because it's a hassle to use two payment methods -- especially when one doesn't let me get tickets in advance.

Make no mistake: I still think that for folks who hit the cineplex at least twice a month, MoviePass is a killer deal. I'm just not one of those folks. (There's too much good TV to watch!)

Editors' note: This post was originally published on Aug. 16, 2017, and has been updated with new information.