A new report from Business Insider suggests business practices within MoviePass – the company with the subscription service where users could watch (almost) as many movies as they’d like – were unethical and possibly downright crooked.
According to SlashFilm, who cites Business Insider, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe ordered employees to change the passwords of frequent MoviePass customers so they wouldn’t be able to use the service as it began to profusely bleed money.
Early on in MoviePass’ life, around 2014, regional test phases of the service charged $35 to $45 a month. By 2016, with Lowe (a former Netflix executive) coming into the company, MoviePass featured a $50 plan that allowed for six movies a month, or a $99 plan for unlimited movies.
Those prices quickly plummeted as MoviePass attempted to secure more subscribers, going from $21 a month, to $10, then $8, then $7. By February 2018, MoviePass claimed it had hit the two million subscriber mark, but the company was struggling to keep up with demand and find a way to actually profit off of its own subscription model when even suburban theaters would generally charge $10 for a single movie.
Repeated attempts to reboot the company, along with multiple changes to MoviePass’ subscription plans, have thrown things into confusion over the past year. Shortly after the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home, MoviePass announced the service was going offline with no specified return date. According to Digital Trends, MoviePass stated it would be crediting customers’ accounts.
Subscribers may also remember the weekend in 2018 when MoviePass refused to let some folks see Mission Impossible: Fallout. According to Business Insider:
“…the temporary loss of cash led Lowe to make “Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” among the most anticipated releases of the year, unavailable on MoviePass. He also ordered that half of subscribers be frozen out the weekend of its release, former employees said. Complaints once again appeared online, leading MoviePass to send out a tweet saying it was “working on a fix towards this technical issue.”
There were also multiple cases of the MoviePass app suddenly claiming that certain movies had no more screenings at their local theaters, even if those theaters weren’t actually busy.
“Per Lowe’s orders, big blockbusters would no longer be available on the app. MoviePass also enforced what it called a “trip wire,” an automatic shutdown mechanism for all users that would be activated if MoviePass went past a certain amount balance. If money ever ran out, subscribers would see the following message on the app: “There are no more screenings at this theater today.”
For more on the history of MoviePass, read about their price surge announcement from last summer, their response to AMC’s movie subscription service, and MoviePass’ reduction of films per day.
Joseph Knoop is a writer/producer for IGN, and Funimation is like $8 a month, you know.