Well, it finally happened: MoviePass’ long-running metamorphosis from “viable, popular business” into “cautionary tale about assuming you’ll figure out where the revenue is coming from later, okay?” is now complete, as the company announced today that it was shutting down. No “restructuring,” no “new plans coming in a couple of months,” no “Oh, we’re just updating our app.” MoviePass is dead, and you, humble reader, have now outlived it.
Founded on the principle that people would like a hassle-free subscription service to let them go see movies—and then re-founded repeatedly on a series of increasingly shittier principles, including “Giving stuff away for less than you paid for it,” “The theater chains will help us out, right?” and that classic capitalist fall-back, “Fuck ‘em, we can get a couple more bucks out of the suckers before the whole thing comes crashing down”—the company has been a sucking chest wound of cash for more than a year, and now said chest wound has finally run out of ways to suck. (As CNBC noted today, the company’s parent organization, Helios and Matheson Analystics, saw its stock price drop 10 percent on the news, which actually isn’t that bad when you consider that it was already trading for fractions of a penny per share.)
There are a lot of ways you could eulogize MoviePass on this, the day of its final, Hindenburgian-collapse back into the internet’s primordial ooze. You could point out the way a fun idea was driven into the ground by investors, who cynically dropped the service’s prices to unsustainable levels, reaped the benefits, and then went on to face very few consequences for the subsequent disasters, even as their employees faced the anger of rightly pissed-off customers. You could highlight its knock-on benefits, as other companies rush in to try to find a version of this model that isn’t founded on fairy tale financial magic. You could even just talk about all the good movies it let you see, before the cash started running out, and the sneaky backdoor password changes, secret ticket purchasing cutoffs, and other allegedly underhanded corporate practices set in.
But we’d like to focus instead on the aspect of MoviePass’ business model that most consistently affected the lives of us, your humble Newswire writers: The MoviePass House in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival back in 2018.
See, it’s not always easy to find a good picture to accompany a story about an internet business, especially one that has all the proper photo licenses intact. So we’ve been indebted for years to MoviePass (and Getty Images photographer Daniel Boczarski) for setting up the perfect, heavily branded space that we could slap up a photo of every time the company pulled its latest boneheaded, dumbshit move. Even as MoviePass descended further and further into garbage fire chaos, we always knew the MoviePass House would be there for us, a sea of calm, earth-tone tranquility hearkening back to a kinder, gentler era, before all the goddamn money ran out.
We’ll miss you, MoviePass House Park City pictures. We’ll miss you, MoviePass-branded mugs and pillows. We’ll miss you, dumb, expensive symbol of a company that had more cash than sense, and then less cash than sense, but still: Not a whole lot of sense. You made our job of writing about this transcendentally stupid company slightly easier. You were the wind beneath our wings.