During the summer movie season, all the major film studios pull out their biggest guns for box office dominance. That fight for moviegoers now starts before customers even pick their movies, with AMC Theaters announcing a new subscription service, called AMC Stubs A-List, to compete with MoviePass’ unlimited movie offer.
For those unfamiliar, MoviePass has been the only company offering such a service and has gained attention with its monthly subscription service that allows users to see one movie per day in theaters for a flat monthly charge of $9.95. AMC has been critical of the service, even threatening legal action against the group when the $9.95 price-point was announced, according to Variety.
When we reached out to Landmark Theatres, the company that owns both the Inwood and Magnolia theaters, a representative told us the company doesn't comment on MoviePass.
Making a move to compete in the same space, AMC announced AMC Stubs A-List, a plan that allows users to see three movies per week in AMC theaters for a monthly charge of $19.95. The service operates as an extension of AMC’s Stubs rewards membership, which offers returning customers discounts on concession items and various promotions. Stubs A-List will go live June 26, with access to all DFW AMC locations immediately available.
So the real question is: Which is a better deal? Is there any advantage to signing up for either service, or is it another Coke or Pepsi choice that’s settled by personal preference? It might be too early to tell, with service details subject to change, but here’s a breakdown of both services.
After signing up for MoviePass, a new subscriber will be instructed to download the MoviePass app and wait roughly two weeks for a personalized MoviePass card to arrive in the mail. Upon the arrival of the card, which resembles a bank-issued debit card, the service time officially starts.
To see a movie, the user will check in on the MoviePass app to his or her theater of choice and select the film and time. After check-in, MoviePass will transfer the balance of the ticket for the chosen screening to the MoviePass card, which the subscriber will take to the box office to pay for the ticket. There are e-ticket options in which a user scans a code on the app, but that is limited to Inwood Theatre, The Magnolia and the Studio Movie Grill locations.
For Stubs A-List, once the subscriber signs up, the service is instantly active. No physical card will be issued. Instead, users must show their virtual cards in the Stubs mobile app when purchasing tickets at an AMC location. Those who like to reserve tickets in advance can still go to the AMC website, where their Stubs membership will apply the discount.
As far as the act of watching the movie, the services have a distinct split. With MoviePass, a specific movie can only be seen once per subscriber, so if a user saw Gotti on Monday, he or she would have to pay out of pocket to see it again Tuesday. The service does not apply to 3D or IMAX showings and requires a subscriber to pay the full ticket price for a specialty screening. MoviePass is also introducing surge rates for more in-demand movies, so if everyone is trying to see Gotti at the same time as you, there might be a few additional dollars to cough up.
"MoviePass is a fantastic deal for anyone who loves going to the movies," Mitch Lowe, CEO of MoviePass, tells us in an email. "By paying just $9.95 a month for our unlimited plan, we offer the ability to see up to a movie a day and provide our members with the flexibility and opportunity to see movies the way they are meant to be seen: on the big screen. With MoviePass, there is less risk associated with the movies you see and how much you pay for them, and we want to make it possible for people to see what they want, when they want, no matter their location or financial situation."
AMC’s Stubs A-List allows the user to see three movies a week, but movies can be seen in whatever fashion the subscriber chooses. If a person wants to see Gotti three times in one day, that's possible. There also aren’t any restrictions on the type of showing, so with the AMC pass, you can see Gotti 3D or Gotti IMAX, where the screen is just wall-to-wall Travolta, without paying anything extra. The AMC week goes from Friday to Thursday, resetting every Friday morning to sync up with new releases.
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All major theaters accept MoviePass. Subscribers can see a movie at all Landmark, Angelika, Cinemark, Studio Movie Grill, Alamo Drafthouse and yes, even AMC, locations. The AMC Stubs A-List can only be used at AMC theaters. (Seems self-explanatory, but they warn people not to eat rat poison, too.)
Now for billing: MoviePass’s most popular plan is a much-publicized monthly $9.95, compared to AMC’s monthly price of $19.95. There is a three-month commitment for the Stubs A-List plan, after which you can cancel anytime. MoviePass does not require a minimum number of months of service, and it's the only service offering a discount for buying a years of service up front.
Do you need either service? Maybe, maybe not, but if you see at least two movies per month, it’s well worth considering from a savings standpoint. A snapshot of local ticket prices are as follows: AMC NorthPark 15, $13.19; Alamo Drafthouse Cedars, $11.91; Studio Movie Grill on Royal, $10.75; and Angelika Dallas, $12.
As is always the case when two competitors go to battle, the consumer wins, with opportunities to save with either service. For concession prices, however, the best way to save is still cargo pants with deep pockets.