A New Docuseries Will Examine the Spectacular Failure of MoviePass

Illustration for article titled A New Docuseries Will Examine the Spectacular Failure of MoviePass
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A new docuseries from Mark Wahlberg’s production company will examine the spectacular failure of subscription service MoviePass.

Wahlberg’s company Unrealistic Ideas has partnered with Assemble Media and Insider on the limited series, Deadline reported Thursday. The project will draw from Insider senior entertainment reporter Jason Guerrasio’s coverage of MoviePass’s dramatic collapse and will feature “exclusive first-hand accounts from the MoviePass founders who watched the company they built destroyed by Wall Street greed,” among other subjects, according to Deadline.

Guerrasio confirmed the project in a tweet on Thursday, writing that it had “been an insane year working on this but so excited with what [Assemble Media] and [Mark Wahlberg’s] Unrealistic Ideas has cooked up.”

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According to Deadline, the project will specifically dig into the company’s founding by Stacy Spikes and Hamet Watt, who started MoviePass in 2011. Originally a monthly subscription service costing around $30 per month, MoviePass exploded in growth after it dropped its monthly cost to just $10 to see a movie a day—which, given the normal cost of a single movie ticket, is obviously a hell of deal and not sustainable in the least. The trouble seemed to start after Helios and Matheson bought a controlling stake in the company in 2017.

The way that Spikes tells it, the $10 price model was “thought of as a promotional thing” to reach 100,000 subscribers—but that happened virtually overnight.

“Where things started to divide is: Myself and a handful of others were methodical about testing price points,” Spikes told Guerrasio in an interview in 2019. “The lowest we ever got down to was $12.99 and as high as $75, where we added Imax and 3D. We knew what was sustainable. But the overriding voice was ‘No, this is awesome, look how fast we’re growing.’ And it was this moment of ‘but $10.’ It doesn’t fly. Now the plane is falling.”

The docuseries will offer “an inside look at how players in the investor class can rig the game to ensure their payday regardless of the carnage they leave behind,” Deadline reported.

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MoviePass remains one of the most astonishing startup failures in history, so Wahlberg and company will have plenty to work with.

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DISCUSSION

It may not have worked for Helios and Matheson, but it worked damn well for me. I saw something like 60 movies in 6 months. I’ll remember such times fondly.

And suffice it to say, even if MoviePass found some kind of financial equilibrium, it surely would’ve died this last year regardless. It was always doomed, sadly.