If you’re a lover of movies, bargains, or just pure, unmitigated chaos, buckle up: The ill-fated theater-subscription service MoviePass, which set out to disrupt the movie business in 2017 before flaming out spectacularly a short time later, is reportedly eyeing a relaunch.
According to court documents reviewed by Insider, a Southern District of New York bankruptcy court judge officially handed the keys to the kingdom to MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes on Wednesday after Spikes placed a bid for an undisclosed amount with Helios and Matheson Analytics, the platform’s former parent company.
“I can confirm that we acquired MoviePass out of bankruptcy on Wednesday,” Spikes told Insider in a statement. “We are thrilled to have it back and are exploring the possibility of relaunching soon. Our pursuit to reclaim the brand was encouraged by the continued interest from the moviegoing community. We believe, if done properly, theatrical subscription can play an instrumental role in lifting moviegoing attendance to new heights.”
When it launched back in 2017, the essential conceit of MoviePass was that subscribers would pay a $9.95 monthly fee in exchange for access to a movie ticket a day—any film, in any theater, in any market. People signed up in droves, which was the plan all along; while the entire operation was initially subsidized by investors, the thinking was that a massive subscriber base would be enough to incentivize big theater chains like Loews and AMC into inking deals with the service. The company also had ambitions of making up for its losses on movie tickets by being a data-driven marketing operation, as one does. A great idea, in theory, except that the chains refused to play ball and it never happened. By September 2018, Helios and Matheson reported $146.7 million in profit losses for the quarter, and by 2019 MoviePass had gone to that big IMAX theater in the sky.
It’s probably worth mentioning that this is only the briefest synopsis of MoviePass’s long list of follies. The service was, at one point, essentially a reanimated corpse shot with 1,000 volts of electricity, stumbling around and defrauding users, resetting their passwords without authorization in order to hinder access to the service, and not-at-all-threateningly claiming that it was capable of gathering users’ location data. So spectacular were this company’s failures that Mark Wahlberg’s production company, Unrealistic Ideas, is reportedly working on a docuseries examining the platform’s spectacular fall from grace.
But we love cheap movies, don’t we folks? What’s a little corporate abuse if it means being able to enjoy an incrementally larger amount of the simple pleasure that is the moviegoing experience? At any rate, no matter what grotesque new form MoviePass is planning to assume, watching this company attempt to slough off the dead husk of its incredibly tarnished reputation will probably be worth the price of admission alone.