Pop Culture

AMC Wants You to Forget MoviePass, Starts Its Own Subscription Service

The bright lights of the cinema.
The bright lights of the cinema. Photo courtesy of AMC
There are plenty of reasons not to see a film at a movie theater: ticket prices are expensive; many theaters are run down or just plain gross; you don’t trust other patrons not to ruin the experience for you; streaming services are so much more convenient. While it’s true that few of us will ever be wealthy enough to replicate the moving-going experience in our own homes, the truth is that most weekends most of us will sacrifice the majesty of the big screen for the comforts of home.

We’re all familiar with the hustles being used by movie theaters to get us back in their buildings. Special event viewings that you can’t pull off at home. Diverse dining options. Bigger, more comfortable seats. And then there are the companies working with the theater industry, such as MoviePass and Sinemia, working to bring the subscription model to the movie-going business.

While MoviePass hasn’t always had the best press, the “pay [x] dollars to see [x] movies per [time frame]” has proved to be, at the very least, intriguing to a large number of people, even if that hasn’t always translated into people signing up for these services. Still, it was always a matter of time before one of the theater chains decided to skip the middleman and offer up a subscription service of its own.

Enter AMC’s Stubs A List, its awkwardly named version of the MoviePass model. For $19.95 plus taxes per month, a person on the A List can see three movies a week—be it three movies in one day or spread out over the week—with no caps on how many times one can see a movie, nor restrictions on special formats such as IMAX or RealD 3D. You can get your tickets in advance, and you get the Stubs Premiere benefits as well, which gives you access to the priority access line at the snack bar, among other perks.

It’s double the price of the “movie per day” MoviePass plan, but it does offer some of the benefits that MoviePass users have been clamoring for, such as the ability to see movies more than once, the ability to get a ticket to a film before heading to the theater, and access to IMAX and the like without paying extra. There’s nothing in the A List data that says you have to take a picture of your ticket stub, if that bit of the MoviePass process annoys you.

A List isn’t going to be for everyone. MoviePass says it has access to 91 percent of the movie theaters out there, whereas not everyone lives near an AMC. A List also, as of this writing, doesn’t offer any type of family plan nor does it allow memberships for movie fans under the age of 18, which means that if you’re someone who sees going to the movies as a family event, you’re still playing for tickets for your kids and teens; it’s also a bit of a thumb to the eye to the idea of building a new generation of movie theater visitors.

Still, if you have an AMC near you, and you’re going to the movies three times a month—or, more importantly, if you want to go three times a month but don’t want to buy three regular priced movie tickets—A List feels like a pretty good offer. Move expensive than its competitors, for sure, but a plan that feels less complicated. This is important because subscription models really aren’t about variety of choice; they’re about ease of use.

The real question is less about whether or not A List is a success—honestly it kind of feels like it only exists to disrupt MoviePass and the like—but whether or not other theater chains will jump into the game with their own versions of the service. They’d be foolish not to; sure, that’s added infrastructure they need to create, but at the end of the day their theaters are going to be showing movies no matter how many people are sitting in them. Might as well do whatever they can to get people in the door.

But seriously, AMC, rethink that name. Say what you want about MoviePass, but the name is snappy.
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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia