MoviePass, the monthly subscription that gave cardholders unlimited access to movies in theatres, always seemed a bit too good to be true. Even before MoviePass started, I thought it would be a great idea but was skeptical. Several years ago, my brother in law was living in Paris and raving about a unlimited movie theatre pass that he had that was quite popular. The idea sounded awesome to me, or at least the pre-parent me that had disposable time to go out and enjoy movies on a whim. When hearing about his “passes de film,” part of me just lusted for the days that I could do midday double features without locking down childcare and promising my first born to pay for said childcare, part of me thought that just wouldn’t work in the US. Movie theatre attendance in the US already is struggling in the wake of streaming services. I just found it hard to see how a company like MoviePass or the movie theatres that accepted the pass would find a profit. The big winner would definitely be the consumer who could see as many movies as they wanted for less than the average price of one matinee cost movie ticket. The cynic in me thought that a model where the consumer triumphed over a startup or theatre corporations just wouldn’t last. Turns out, I was right. After financial struggles, MoviePass has been forced to alter their system, restricting certain major movies and peak showtimes from their members.
I think any MoviePass subscriber knew they were being entertained on borrowed time when already the company seemed iffy from the jump when they were taking customers’ money and then taking forever to send members their cards which gave them the unlimited flick access. Even when given early hints of failure, Americans can’t help but grasp for things that seem to good to be true. I mean just look at Milli Vanilli, Ashlee Simpson, Bernie Madoff, democracy.
In the spirit of unlimited monthly passes that are too good to be true but would be AWESOME, here are my five most wanted passes. I was prescient about MoviePass, so may these passes be my next great prophesy:
They already have a perfectly fine free rewards programs that give nice incentives for having a daily caffeine addiction, but a monthly Starbucks pass would be such a win. Of course the fee would have to be more than a cup of coffee, but I bet all those Starbucks lovers would pony up at least $20 a month for unlimited Starbucks. The only downsides I could see for the company would be that they’d have to maybe restrict food items and potentially the number of drinks per day. Just imagine how nice it would be though if you had the monthly pass and could look oh so generous when you offered to buy your whole office coffee or even the person next to you in line.
9:30 Club/Merriweather Post Pavillion
This really would be such a locals only D.C. treat, but the same model could apply for any music venue that offered general admission or lawn seats. I could see music junkies being willing to pay $50 or so a month to get two GA tickets to any shows all month long. The only time this might get sticky is with really popular, quick to sell out shows but that might be a perk to pay more per month. If a show sold out before you could use your pass, well then you’re SOL and maybe don’t let your pass make you lazy!
DC Theatre Venues
This pass might work similarly to the music venue one above, but I think it could be even broader to encompass not just one theatre (which really already happens somewhat with the subscription model) but almost all D.C. theatres. Any theatre under the Theatre Washington umbrella could opt in and people with a monthly pass could get two tickets to any performance that’s not yet sold out. Theatre struggles to find audiences as much as movies do, if not WAY more, but it certainly helps performer morale to see seats filled. If theatres banded together city wide with this model it might encourage more young people to go to the theatre because it’s streamlined and simple. How the profits get divided by theatres is a bit too mathematical for me, but the idea sounds great.
No matter how sick ingredients might make customers, Chipotle fans will never stop eating their food. I could see a monthly pass getting abused by people ordering too many burritos at a time and making the line even more of a mess than it already is. If unlimited monthly burritos isn’t possible, wouldn’t it at least be nice to have a monthly membership for guacamole? Instead of being told guac costs more (I KNOW) let me just flash my card and slop that deliciousness on with a heavy hand.
Barnes and Noble
Yes, I know like movie theatres this is a dying company, but maybe a monthly pass would give a little boost. Obviously, people couldn’t buy unlimited books… but maybe a cap at like 5-10 a month with no questions asked returns if the book is in good condition. Oh…wait…this already exists..and it’s FREE…guys, it’s called the library. It’s really awesome. Tell your friends.