MoviePass, the theater subscription service that went on a wild rollercoaster ride before crashing into bankruptcy, is coming back from the dead. For real. However, unlike the original service, the new MoviePass will be built on Web3 technology and allow users to essentially “sell” advertisers access to their eyeballs.
The service’s revival was announced on Thursday by CEO Stacy Spikes, one of the company’s original co-founders who was fired in 2018 by its former parent company. (In an ironic twist, Spikes bought MoviePass in a bankruptcy auction last November). At a live event hosted at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reed Theater in New York City, Spikes said it was MoviePass fans who had kept the dream alive.
The CEO also dismissed claims that covid-19 had doomed movie theaters. In 2020, the U.S. and Canada box office market experienced a crippling blow, dropping 80% from $11.4 billion to $2.2 billion, due to the pandemic, according to the Motion Picture Association’s yearly THEME report. (The report for 2021 has not been released yet).
“Many of you know because of covid we all hear ‘movies [are] doomed.’ Are they over? I don’t know about you, but I don’t think so,” Spikes said.
Spikes didn’t go into full detail on how the new MoviePass would work—there are still several questions left unanswered—but did outline a few of the service’s new offerings.
First, he explained that the model for MoviePass would be based on a virtual currency, or credits that can be used in different ways. A company spokesperson told Gizmodo in an email on Thursday that members will have a certain number of credits to spend each month based on their plan. Any unused credits will roll over and will be able to be used later. In addition, Web3 technology will enable users to trade and transfer credits, Spikes said.
Speaking of plans, unlike the previous setup where users paid $9.95 per month for one ticket per day, MoviePass will now offered tiered plans. It’s currently not clear what the tiers would look like, and no prices were revealed. Interestingly, Spikes said that MoviePass members will now be able to bring a friend along with them.
Lastly, Spikes announced a feature called PreShow, which allows members to earn extra credits by watching an advertiser’s content. Using Web3 technology, the company will show each member specific content and deposit credits in their unique virtual wallets if they finish it. The feature is opt-in.
“What it does is it basically creates a transaction between you and the brand,” the CEO said.
While PreShow seems like a good idea in theory, allowing you to earn virtual money for ads you have to sit through anyway, the execution of the feature is a bit creepy. According to Spikes, your phone would use its own facial detection technology to make sure you’re watching the ad. If you look away, the ad will pause and an “Are you still there?” message will appear.
MoviePass doesn’t have an official launch date yet, although Spikes says it will be this summer. You can sign up to receive a notification when the service launches on its website.