Image: Sinemia

MoviePass broke the mold on theater subscription services and broke itself in the process, but the whole idea itself is not dead. Sinemia is carrying on with more modest deals, and it’s now offering weekday-only subscription plans that start at $4 per month.

Before MoviePass emerged from obscurity last year with a $15 per month free-for-all, Sinemia was offering theater subscriptions in Europe and building a real business model. The company has brought a range of tiered pricing to the U.S., and on Tuesday it announced a bunch of new plans that allow users to get discounted rates if they’re willing to only go to the movies Monday through Thursday. Here’s the rundown:

  • $3.99 per month - One ticket to any movie per month.
  • $8.99 per month - Three tickets to any movie per month.
  • $9.99 per month - Two tickets to any movie per month including 3D, 4D, and IMAX formats.
  • $14.99 per month – Three tickets to any movie per month including 3D, 4D, IMAX formats.
  • $23.99 per month – One ticket to any 2D movie per day (aka unlimited).

That’s 20 percent off if you don’t need to crowd into a theater on opening day. It’s also very friendly to the theater business, which would like to see more people coming during off-times, something that MoviePass inadvertently accomplished by making its service virtually unusable on weekends.

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Sinemia’s biggest hurdles are the fact that it’s more expensive than MoviePass’s original plan (which was always a pipe dream) and that all these different tiers can be confusing. All of those options above are also available in 7-days-a-week and family plan formats. It has cut down the MoviePass-matching movie-a-day option from $89.99 to $29.99. which is a great bargain if you just get to the theater once a week. But overall, “Sinemia with prices ranging from $4 to $36 per month” doesn’t really stick in your head like “MoviePass is unlimited for $15.”

But discounted movie theater subscriptions still seem like they’re part of the inevitable future, and having an independent company handle them rather than giant theater chains seems preferable. AMC, for example, just raised the price of its Stubs A-List service in 15 states. The changes won’t go into effect for three months, and the theater chain said that new subscribers will be guaranteed a locked-in rate for a year.

The beauty of the original MoviePass was that you could go to any theater and give unexpected flicks a chance. Getting locked into a single chain doesn’t sound as fun, but AMC seems to be having some success. On Monday, it announced that it has brought in 500,000 subscribers in five months, a total it expected would take a full year.

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Sinemia has one trick up its sleeve that might help it survive: Helping theaters build their own plans. It’s easy to see Sinemia managing to pull off the “unlimited” model at $30 while making money from data-driven advertising like MoviePass and also helping smaller theaters set up their own clubs for a fee.

Sinemia doesn’t release its subscriber numbers in the U.S., so we’re not sure how it’s catching on. People like having a bunch of different bundling options for cable, so maybe a slew of tiered pricing is the way to go. Maybe one day there will be a billion packages from different competitors, and we’ll just call them all MoviePass or Sinemia the way some people call all soda “Coke.”

[Sinemia, TechCrunch]

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