Walmart Deal Will Bring Back MoviePass Service (Really)

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The movie subscription service MoviePass recently emerged from a 2020 bankruptcy.

In the summer 2022, an unexpected company came back from the dead. 

A movie subscription service, MoviePass filed for bankruptcy in 2019 after struggling to keep its model of allowing passholders to pay $9.99 per month and watch an unlimited number of movies profitable. 

DON'T MISS: MoviePass Is Back But It's Biggest Problem Has Not Gone Away

The company that took MoviePass over in 2017, Helios and Matheson Analytics  (HMNY) , saw its stock plunge to zero and was promptly delisted from the Nasdaq.


Walmart's Backing May Be The Boost the New MoviePass Needs

Control over the MoviePass concept later returned to its founder Stacy Spikes and, after securing funding from a number of investors, the company started testing the beta version of a tier system in which one earns theater "credits" for $10, $20 or $30 per month.

The new version of the subscription service launched in September 2022 but was only available to a limited number of volunteers interested in testing it. According to the MoviePass website, a widescale rollout of the program is currently scheduled for the summer of 2023.

The cheapest version will reportedly allow for one to three movies a month while the most expensive lets one watch as many as eleven.

But another major milestone in the MoviePass resurgence will be a partnership with Walmart  (WMT) - Get Free Report.

As several sources with knowledge of the matter told Business Insider, the retail giant will promote the subscription service with in-store displays and other advertising materials. Walmart currently uses similar displays to promote streaming service Netflix  (NFLX) - Get Free Report and sell gift cards for the platform.

Neither Walmart nor MoviePass formally confirmed the partnership but, according to the sources who spoke to Business Insider, Walmart is keen on promoting in-theatre attendance through the partnership.

The Movie Theatre Industry (Just Barely) Survived The Pandemic

While movie-theatre attendance has been declining for years amid the rise of various types of streaming platforms, the industry took a massive hit when theatres shut their doors amid pandemic-related lockdowns.

Theatregoers eventually started coming back but more than 2,000 theatres across the country could not handle the earnings loss and closed permanently. One survey found that 49% of people who reported going to movie multiplexes before 2020 had stopped doing so entirely after the pandemic.

By 2023, theatres have come face to face with a new problem — amid inflation and a looming recession, many are watching wallets and reconsidering any "extra" spending.

While the movie industry is trying to draw in visitors with special effects and other "in-theatre experiences," it still has to compete with streaming platforms that can offer an ever-increasing array of entertainment at a much lower cost. Even with Netflix and Warner Brothers  (WBD) - Get Free Report-owned HBO Max raising their prices, $15 a month for a monthly subscription is still significantly less than even just two movie-theatre visits for two people.

The way forward, industry analysts say, is for theatre companies to either lean into premium effects and formats that work best on large-format screens or experiment with MoviePass-style subscription models that leave theatregoers feeling like they're getting their money's worth. AMC  (AMC) - Get Free Report has been offering a competing Stubs A-List subscription service since 2018.

"After a heavy dose of streaming at home during the last two years, consumers have decided that the cinema is the place to go for an experience that can't be replaced at home," Steve Frankel, an analyst with Rosenblatt Securities, recently told CNET.