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Is AMC’s new movie subscription plan a better deal than MoviePass?

June 21, 2018 GMT

Is AMC’s new movie subscription plan a better deal than MoviePass?

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- If you can’t beat ‘em, join ’em.

AMC Theaters, which has been involved in a contentious rivalry with MoviePass, is entering the movie subscription business with a deal of its own.

AMC Stubs A-List, as it’s called, is an extension the theater chain’s rewards program. Launching Tuesday, June 26, for $19.95 a month, members get to see up to three movies per week at any of AMC’s Theatres, including the three in Northeast Ohio in Rocky River, Brooklyn and Solon.

“We believe that our current and future loyal guests will be interested in this type of program, as AMC Stubs A-List rewards guests with something that no one else offers: the very best of AMC, including IMAX, Dolby Cinema and RealD 3D up to 3 times per week, for one simple, sustainable price,” said AMC Theatres CEO and President Adam Aron in a statement.

“Sustainable price” is a direct shot at AMC’s nemesis MoviePass. That service, currently with three million subscribers but losing money, has shaken up the cinema business by offering up to a movie a day for $9.95. AMC has openly criticized the business model of MoviePass and, unlike other theater chains, balked at the thought of a sharing revenue deal with its rival.

In a response, MoviePass banned certain AMC locations from the service before bringing them back a few months later. The company used the launch of AMC Stubs A-List to take a dig at the theatre chain.

“Heard AMC Theaters jumped on board the movie subscription train. Twice the price for 1/4 the theater network and 60% fewer movies. Thanks for making us look good AMC!” MoviePass wrote in a series of tweets. “AMC has repeatedly disparaged our model as a way to discourage our growth because all along they wanted to launch their own, more expensive plan. We want to make movies more accessible, they want more profit.”

Heard AMC Theaters jumped on board the movie subscription train. Twice the price for 1/4 the theater network and 60% fewer movies. Thanks for making us look good AMC!— MoviePass (@MoviePass) June 20, 2018

AMC has repeatedly disparaged our model as a way to discourage our growth because all along they wanted to launch their own, more expensive plan. We want to make movies more accessible, they want more profit.— MoviePass (@MoviePass) June 20, 2018

So, if you see movies frequently enough to consider a monthly subscription plan, which one should you choose? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both MoviePass and AMC Stubs A-List, plus competitors Sinemia and Cinemark’s MovieClub.

AMC STUBS A-LIST

$19.95 a monthThree movies per weekIMAX and 3-D movies includedCan see same movie multiple timesAdvance tickets with reserved seating availableCan only be used at AMC TheatersDiscounts and access to VIP line at concession stand

MOVIEPASS

$9.95 a monthOne movie per dayIMAX AND 3-D movies not includedCan see same movie only onceMust purchase tickets in person at the theaterNo advance online purchasesCan be used at most theaters

SINEMIA

Flexible plans ranging from $4.99 to $14.99Top tier plan includes three movies per monthIMAX and 3-D movies includedAdvance tickets with reserved seating availableCan be used at most theaters

CINEMARK MOVIECLUB

$8.99 a monthOne 2-D movie per monthAdditional tickets for $8.99Unused credits roll overAdvance tickets with reserved seating availableDiscount at concession standCan only be used at Cinemark locations

As you can see, each service has its advantages and disadvantages. In terms of the number of movies a subscriber has access to ever month, none can compete with MoviePass. That service, by far the most popular of them all, is not without its pitfalls at $9.95 a month. The app sometimes doesn’t work, customer service is spotty at best, and you can’t see 3-D or IMAX films, or even the same movie more than once. Have a problem with your data being sold or having your location tracked? MoviePass might not be for you.

But the most frustrating restriction, perhaps, is the no advance ticketing option.

Are you the type that likes to see the big blockbusters on opening weekend? In that regard, MoviePass falls short. Because you have to physically be at the theater at the time of purchase, you can either show up at the theater and pray it isn’t sold out or make a special trip earlier in the day to buy the ticket.

So, if you value convenience over quantity, the other plans would probably suit your needs better. Out of the three, AMC’s program looks to be the best deal-- provided there’s an AMC location near you. For under $20 a month, you get up to three movies per week. That means, with primetime 3-D tickets costing about $15, you only have to see, at the very least, two movies per month to recoup your monthly expense. Throw in luxury recliners like the ones at Ridge Park Square and Westwood, discounts and perks at the concession stand, and the other benefits mentioned, you have the makings of a plan that could give MoviePass a run for its money.