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MoviePass CEO Wants Into The Metaverse

MoviePass CEO Wants Into The Metaverse

MoviePass is set to return this summer after being swooped down and revived by its original co-founder, Stacy Spikes. During a launch presentation on Thursday, Spikes campaigned on stage in New York to relaunch its storied movie ticket subscription service. Web3 was much fanfare and, somewhat bizarre, in terms of technology. But one thing Spikes didn't reveal on stage was MoviePass's Metaverse purpose.

Spikes tells The Verge, “Some players in the Metaverse right now are a little game-y, when I think you just want to watch the movie.” "You don't need fake popcorn; you don't need tomatoes; you don't need other things that are out there. And that's where we're seeing this, and it's something we're taking seriously." And we think we will have a presence in it."

During Thursday's launch event, Spikes introduced a product that felt a little less like a potential bomb than the beloved but devastatingly dirt-cheap, unlimited-watching iteration of the service. And he's ready to tap nearly every avenue, including digital currency and the metaverse, to bring MemSub back to life. Problem is, it's unclear whether consumers — or heck, even theaters — are ready for MoviePass 2.0. Moviegoing subscriptions relying on VR and decentralized technologies give AMC the same energy as coming into crypto. OK but why?

"What's great about going to film is that it's seamless. You can't stop it, you need attention, and if not, you're going to waste your money," Spikes says. "And what we love about it is watching the event happen. And I think seeing the event can happen in the metaverse.

Spikes did not share details about the company's Metaverse ambitions. He mentions concerts and live events as his area of ​​interest — "we see ourselves as a live event company," Spikes tells me — but that seems like long-term thinking for now.

Despite all the buzz, Spikes' ultimate goal for MoviePass hasn't changed. The main function of the service is still getting people seated in physical seats in theaters, and Spikes says the new MoviePass will give users more flexibility and a better experience while helping theaters.

The way the old MoviePass worked was with a debit card-like system that allowed members to watch a certain number of movies each month for a fixed fee. Much has yet to be clearly determined about the new MoviePass — pricing, for example, hasn't been announced yet, and Spikes declined to share ballpark range when I asked. But Spikes says the new subscription service will be tiered, and users will also be able to earn additional movie credits by watching ads through Spikes' existing venture, Preshow.

This time, Spikes says, members will have more flexibility to be able to do things like bring in friends — something that wasn't an option with previous MoviePass. Based on slides shared during the presentation this week, the number of credits per film will vary based on factors such as peak movie viewing hours and perhaps title popularity and location. Spikes are stressing that this is a significant difference between this new MoviePass and how poorly it has managed 1,000 memes.

“It’s a concept shift – it’s less about the price point and creating more flexibility that people can go wherever they want, and then even if you’re mid-month, and you want to go more, then You'll be able to get more credit and go upstream. So it's adding a lot of flexibility to where the previous model was one-size-fits-all," Spikes says. "We think that one-size-fits-all rigidity is something that needs to change."

This flexibility could be a huge advantage for MoviePass 2.0 in a rocky time for the theater industry. Exhibitors have begun to withdraw their exclusivity windows, and recent releases such as Spider-Man: No Way Home have indicated that audiences are feeling comfortable with returning to the auditorium for film premieres. But pandemic releases are still very much in flux, and when things are starting to get back to normal, streaming executives are worried about returning to a full-fledged pre-COVID release model.

Spikes' launch event this week is like a love letter to theatres. Actually, at times it seemed that he was talking directly to them. (That very well may be — MoviePass hasn't announced any exhibition partners yet, but Spikes tells The Verge that the company has "very advanced talks we're very comfortable with.") If MoviePass is going to be successful, it needs theaters, and the landscape of the film industry has changed drastically in the years since the old MoviePass went up in flames.

For example, many theaters now have their own subscription services that reward power users with discounts. When I ask Spikes how MoviePass fits into a world where subscriptions like the Alamo Season Pass and AMC Stubbs A-List exist, he says smaller theaters have expressed interest, while larger chains have wait-and-seeded. -Looks at approach is being adopted.

"I mean, obviously those who don't have a plan are very interested in working with us. Those who have a plan, I think, are waiting to see what we do." It's an ongoing conversation, but certainly the bottom 50 percent who don't have millions of dollars to advance the technology are leaning in and being like, 'Hey, we saw you how that affected the business. When can we engage? ,

Still, Spikes thinks MoviePass could revolutionize the theater industry. Spikes said during its presentation that MoviePass 2.0's "Moonshot" goal is to double annual revenue and film industry presence with its "30 by 30" initiative. In short, Spikes wants subscriptions (for any service, not just MoviePass) to account for 30 percent of all domestic ticket sales revenue across the industry by 2030.

To reach anything close to the inherent success of early MoviePass — the subscription service had millions of users at its peak thanks to its financially unreliable $10 price point — the new MoviePass would need to win back consumer trust. Before Spikes bought the company back last year, MoviePass' previous parents Helios and Matheson Analytics did a blazing job with abusive customers and allegedly sabotaged the system.

When I ask Stacy about Helios and Matheson Analytics executives Ted Farnsworth and Mitch Lowe, who eventually fired Spikes from the company she co-founded, she says she thinks those companies There are possibilities for those whose original founders return to business to build trust. But he also credits former MoviePass customers who "keep the spirit alive" for inspiring him to restart the business.

"With regards to Mitch and Ted, I never spoke to them. When I was let go, I got an email. And we never had words," he says. "You know, that's okay. We're excited about the opportunity to reinvent and reinvent the brand to help the film industry."

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