At one not-so-distant point, you could watch movies anytime and at almost any theater for as low as $10 a month. What could be more magical than that? If you were an avid moviegoer who loved the flexibility of visiting different locations, a MoviePass subscription in 2017 was perfectly cheap and quite beloved.
However, things were far from great behind the scenes of the company. It went bankrupt in 2020, but its fortunes might be on the upswing. The company is set to relaunch its subscription service this summer, though no date has been announced.
Do expect major changes to the service, as well as some tough competition. MoviePass’s return to the market will see the company once again compete with two major subscription plans: AMC Stubs A-List and Regal Unlimited. There are others too, like Cinemark and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s plans.
Still, MoviePass, AMC Stubs A-List, and Regal Unlimited are arguably the most well-known subscription services. Deciding which one is best is really up to the moviegoer and their cinema-viewing needs. So, below, we break down the pricing and benefits of the three major players.
The waitlist for the new MoviePass has closed, but access for the general public is still expected to come alongside its launch.
MoviePass CEO and cofounder Stacy Spikes told BuzzFeed News it's implementing a new business model that still includes partnering with various cinemas. However, the company will now use a credit system, with varied charges depending on the screening’s day and time.
Spikes said the company plans to test out four pricing tiers with differing theater location restrictions. Three of the tiers will be available in most participating locations while the fourth “Pro” tier will only be available in select markets that have yet to be announced.
Members will buy credits to watch movies based on the time and day of viewing; weekend night screenings will cost more credits than a Wednesday morning movie, for example.
Here are the four tiers and monthly costs:
Here are the subscription plans for Southern California and NY metro areas:
Here’s how many credits a movie costs, including a separate credit tier for locations only in the Southern California and NY metro areas:
Why all the different viewing and credit options? Spikes said certain moviegoers prefer to go to different theaters based on the film they plan to watch. For opening Marvel films, some people may prefer to be in a 500-seat auditorium, while Oscarbaity films might be more desirable in a smaller theater. He compared it to seeing live music.
“If you go see a jazz musician or if you're gonna go see Taylor Swift, you're not gonna see them in the same venue,” he said. “Cinema is a little like that too. And so with MoviePass, you have the ability to experience anywhere you want to see a movie versus just having one circuit.”
A second subscription option is Regal Unlimited. It started in 2019 and allows guests to watch as many movies as desired, without a weekly limit, at most Regal theaters, except for some select locations. Here’s the list of participating theaters.
There are three tiers for Regal Unlimited, determined by the theater prices near the member. If a subscriber attends a theater in a higher tier, a ticket surcharge of $1.50 to $3 is added to make up the price difference.
Here are Regal Unlimited’s tiers:
“[Regal Unlimited] is great value as it pays for itself in just two visits. Plus subscribers get 10% off concessions purchases,” said Kelly Hawkins, Regal's vice president of loyalty programs and insights, in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
Hawkins added that Regal Unlimited subscribers also receive the benefits of its free Regal Crown Club membership, where filmgoers earn credits for purchases made online or in the theater for tickets and concessions. Credits can be redeemed to buy popcorn, tickets, and other perks.
AMC Stubs A-List
AMC Stubs and AMC Stubs A-List are not the same thing. AMC Stubs offers benefits like concessions upgrades and money back for purchases. It’s essentially AMC’s version of Regal’s Crown Club.
AMC Stubs A-List is the company’s subscription program that started in 2018. It allows users to attend up to three screenings a week, and the tally resets every Friday. Subscription prices vary depending on location and the time of year. Prices range from around $19.95 to $23.95 a month, and the A-List program includes Stubs benefits.
“Even the free tier allows you to come on Tuesdays and get a significant discount on a movie ticket,” Ryan Noonan, vice president of corporate communications at AMC Theatres, told BuzzFeed News. “Each tier offers its own value for moviegoers.”
Being a member even comes with tailored movie recommendations via email, Noonan added.
Here are the AMC Stubs tiers: