If you thought MoviePass’s deal to see unlimited movies for $9.99 a month was insanely cheap, wait until you get a load of Sinema.
The rival movie-ticket subscription service added new plans for one or two movie tickets per month for just $4.99 or $6.99, respectively, in the US. It also slashed the price of its existing plans by a $1; customer can now get into two movies a month for $9.99 or three movies for $14.99, including the pricier 3D, 4D, and IMAX formats that you can’t get with MoviePass. Sinema, based in Los Angeles, California, introduced comparable plans and pricing in the UK, Canada, and Australia, where it also operates.
MoviePass, which is only in the US, offers one 2D movie ticket per day for $9.99 a month. It’s still a more cost-effective option for those who go to the cinemas three or more times a month. It’s also running a three-month promotion that includes three movies per month and an IHeartRadio trial for $7.95 a month. The company frequently runs promotions and changes its pricing. The cheapest offer yet has been $6.95 a month when you pay for a year upfront.
MoviePass, which launched in 2011, grabbed national attention last summer when it cut prices from roughly $50 a month to $9.99, or around the price of Netflix. Its subscriber base grew from 200,000 to more than 2 million after the price change.
But some industry watchers believe it’s too good to be true.
The average movie ticket costs $9.16 in the US. And MoviePass is still on the hook for the full cost to the theaters. It’s been hemorrhaging money to pay for the movies its subscribers see, and its parent company Helios and Matheson has had to raise cash to cover the costs. Helios and Matheson’s stock closed at $2.13 yesterday, a 40% drop from the day it announced its majority stake in MoviePass last summer. MoviePass aims to turn this around by cutting deals with cinema operators to lower the rate it pays per ticket—with which it has had little success so far—and adding new revenue streams like advertising within the app. Movie studios also pay MoviePass to advertise to its subscribers.
Sinema is likely trying to stir up buzz of its own with plan and price changes.
It says its model is sustainable and has proven itself around the world. Sinema’s restrictions on the number of movies subscribers prevent heavy users from driving up costs. And it features restaurant deals and other location-based recommendations that could bring in additional advertising revenue, as MoviePass aims to do. (It’s unclear whether Sinema’s perks are currently ad-supported; Quartz has reached out for more details.) Sinema has not yet revealed how many subscribers it has or how much money it has raised.
Another draw for subscribers is that Sinema allows bookings up to 30 days in advance, unlike MoviePass, where tickets must be booked on the day of the showing and within 100 yards of the theater.
Whether Sinema or MoviePass’s current models last, moviegoers are the clear winners in this subscription movie-ticket war.