Finance: The best purchase I've made all year costs $10 a month
MoviePass subscriptions make a great and cheap holiday gift.
- I got a $9.95 a month MoviePass subscription in October.
- Over the past two months, I've saved more than $100 on the cost of movie tickets.
- My favorite part about the subscription is that I can see both new releases and indie film screenings.
Going to the movies is one of my favorite pastimes.
But it's not a frugal outing in big cities like New York and Los Angeles. Where I live in Hollywood, a basic, no-frills evening ticket for a new release costs $18.75.
Thankfully, movie-going was rendered affordable when I signed up for MoviePass, the startup that offers $9.95 a month subscriptions to see one film a day in theaters.
The company previously offered the same subscription for $50 a month, but slashed the price back in August, causing a frenzy among movie-goers and theater operators alike. More than 150,000 people signed up for MoviePass in two days, the company said, and it has since struggled to keep up with demand.
In fact, I signed up on September 20 and didn't get my MoviePass debit card in the mail until exactly a month later. It was frustrating, no doubt, but that feeling quickly faded after the thrill of seeing my first "free movie."
I've been a MoviePass member for two months now, and I've seen at least eight movies, ranging from small screenings of indie films to packed, blockbuster showings.
In total, I've saved over $100 on the cost of movie tickets, minus the $20 in fees for two months.
The best part
Not only is the cost savings fun to brag about, but I love being able to see so many different types of movies in the film capital of the world. It's mine and my boyfriend's favorite free date night activity.
MoviePass says it works at 91% of theaters in the country, including big chains like Regal and AMC, as well as independent theaters. It doesn't work for 3D showings, but I'm not a fan of those anyway.
In November, we caught an epic screening of the film "2001: A Space Odyssey" at the iconic Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.
On Halloween weekend, we went to a midnight screening of the horror flick "It Follows" complete with a director's Q&A (and an unsuspecting Quentin Tarantino sighting).
The MoviePass app works just like any other movie-ticket app, in that it lists all nearby theaters and available showtimes.
The fact that it's "free" to see any of the showings on the MoviePass app draws my attention toward ones I likely wouldn't have paid full price to see.
The worst part
I'm a MoviePass evangelist, but I would be remiss not to mention its shortcomings.
For starters, the app is buggy and not very user-friendly. In order to see a movie, you have to "check-in" to your desired showtime on the app once you're less than 100 yards from the theater. It's usually in your best interest to arrive early, especially for popular screenings.
A few times I've checked-in and been met with a never-ending loading wheel. When that happens, I usually quit out of the app and start over. It's not a world-ending flaw, but certainly an annoyance.
Lastly, MoviePass added some fine print to its terms of service in November that's fear-inducing for its most avid members. In short, MoviePass reserves the right to change the monthly price or number of movies a member can see at any time. The company hasn't shared data on the average number of movies its members see each month, so it's hard to know what would be considered over-usage by their standards.
My advice? Sign up for MoviePass now while it's still cheap, and use the heck out of it. Or make it a thoughtful holiday gift for the movie-lover in your life.
Click here to read the full text by Tanza Loudenback