MoviePass, the e-ticketing company that has spent most of the last year in a slow-motion catastrophic meltdown, has somehow sucked Bruce Willis into a three-picture deal with its production company, Deadline reported this week.
According to Deadline, MoviePass Films CEOs and co-founders Randall Emmett, George Furla, and Ted Farnsworth struck the deal with Willis. (You might remember Farnsworth as the CEO of the startup’s parent company, Helios and Matheson, which is facing investor lawsuits and a fraud investigation in New York, and for his eyebrow-raising history registering dozens of companies in Florida). Deadline wrote:
It solidified a long relationship that Willis has had with Emmett/Furla/Oasis. He has made 14 films with them, with 10 Minutes Gone in post-production and past efforts that include the Richard Donner-directed 16 Blocks and the Stephen Frears-helmed Lay the Favorite.
The first in the new three-pic pact will be Trauma Center, written by Paul da Silva. It will begin shooting in February in Miami. Additional casting is underway on the film. Emmett, Furla and Lydia Hull will produce Trauma Center, while Ted Farnsworth, Tim Sullivan and Alex Eckert will executive produce.
Specific details on the [Trauma Center] script are practically non-existent, save for the fact that it was included as part of the 2017 Black List Feature Writers Lab.
Willis is a legitimate star, albeit one whose IMDB page shows an increasing number of roles where they couldn’t even be bothered to give his character a last name in recent years.
MoviePass, on the other hand, blew up in popularity because it was buying tickets for customers at cost to itself in a gamble that it could convince theater chains to strike a deal. That business model led to it blowing hundreds of millions of dollars a year, as well as rotating through subscription models so quickly its executive vice president Khalid Itum recently admitted to the New York Times that users no longer “trust the MoviePass brand.”
MoviePass has also suffered a decline in subscriptions, the Times noted, though it declined to say by how much. (Since it hasn’t figured out how to make money on the tickets it pays for, this could actually be characterized as good news.) The company’s strategy with MoviePass Films has been to drive filmgoers through the MoviePass app to films it has a financial stake in. But its highest-profile attempt in 2018, the John Travolta mafia biopic Gotti, was a box office bomb that has a zero percent Rotten Tomatoes score even after 48 reviews.
As MoviePass is scrambling around trying to convince the outside world that everything is just fine, Helios and Matheson is reportedly on the verge of being thrown off stock exchanges, and its constant pivots continue to play poorly in the press. TechCrunch referred to the company on Tuesday as an “inextinguishable garbage fire.”
In other words, all the red lights are flashing and the klaxons are sounding at MoviePass. Willis has made a career playing characters more than happy to board sinking ships and dive into burning buildings, so best of luck to him on helping sort this mess out.