MoviePass is dead: These are the best alternatives


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James Martin/CNET

Well, it’s official: After years of more twists and flips than a Cirque-du-Soleil trampoline performer, the MoviePass discount-ticket service shut down for good on Sept. 14. What was once heralded as a potential savior of movie theaters is now the stuff of Silicon Valley legend. Meanwhile, competitor Sinemia abruptly shut its doors back in April.

Now what? If you still crave the big-screen experience but don’t want to pay the exorbitant prices, are you out of luck? Nope: A few movie-subscription services are left standing, each offering a similar flat-monthly-rate option for enthusiastic moviegoers. Let’s take a look at two of them, AMC Stubs A-List and Cinemark Movie Club, and see which one, if either, deserves your dollars.

AMC Stubs A-List

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AMC

Price: $19.95 plus tax; price may be $2-$4 higher in certain locations.

What you get: Three tickets per week for any format (IMAX, 3D, etc.) and all the benefits of an AMC Stubs Premiere membership (including 10% off food and drink). Up to three out-of-state tickets per year.

Limitations: AMC theaters only, which can be found in 34 states. Requires a three-month commitment. There’s no bring-a-friend or family option. No Stubs points earned for tickets booked through A-List.

Summary: AMC’s 2017 feud with MoviePass resulted in A-List, its own private subscription service. Save for the slight price increase in certain cities, very little has changed in the two years since A-List made its debut.

Worth it? Even if you live in a city that has a higher monthly rate (in Los Angeles, for example, it’s $23.95), the value proposition remains high: For the price of about two tickets, you can see as many as 12 movies per month. The support for 3D, IMAX and other premium showings is definitely a plus, but for now you’re stuck paying full price if you want to add a friend or family member. The bigger question: Do you live near an AMC theater?

Cinemark Movie Club

cinemark-movie-club

Cinemark’s new Movie Club scores you a slight discount on tickets.


Cinemark

Price: $8.99 or $9.99, depending on location.

What you get: One ticket per month, 20 percent off concessions, additional tickets at member pricing. Unused tickets can roll over.

Limitations: Cinemark theaters and 2D movies only.

Summary: Announced in late 2017 by theater chain Cinemark, Movie Club doesn’t really measure up to Stubs A-List. You’re basically buying a single discounted ticket every month, with the option for additional pay-as-you-go discounted tickets. The rollover option is useful for those months when there’s nothing to see, but if you want anything other than a 2D showing, you’ll have to pay more.

Worth it? In my neck of the woods (metro Detroit), a single Cinemark ticket to an evening show costs $10.50. So paying $9 per month saves me only $1.50. If I bring my family of four, we each pay $9 instead of $10.50; now I’ve saved $6. I’m also likely to save a few bucks on popcorn. That’s all fine, but it’s hardly earth-shattering, and not really enough to get me out of the house on a snowy evening. The real issue, though: there are no Cinemark theaters near where I live.

The verdict

In case it’s not abundantly obvious, the only real MoviePass/Sinemia alternative right now is AMC Stubs A-List. Cinemark’s barely discounted one-ticket-per-month plan may be more sustainable than what MoviePass tried and failed to offer, but it offers little to really excite movie buffs.

A-List, however, offers real value to the cinephile, and given that it’s backed by the actual theater chain and not a third-party service, it should be able to go the distance. Of course, now that chief competitors MoviePass and Sinemia are gone, it remains to be seen whether AMC will keep the plan alive.

If Regal Cinemas theaters are closer to you, it might also be worth your while to consider Regal Unlimited, which like AMC’s A-List costs between $18 and $23.50 per month based on how many theaters you would like access to. Generally this means if you live in a higher-cost area like New York, you might have to pay the higher rate in order to access those Regal theaters. It’s a newer kid on the block, so we need to dive a bit deeper before setting a judgment on where it ranks.

And if you have an Alamo Drafthouse theater nearby, you might be able to hop onto its Alamo Season Pass service that’s currently in beta. Pricing on that service varies right now since it hasn’t officially launched, but anyone interested in trying it out can get added onto a waitlist. For now, those living near the Yonkers, New York Alamo can guarantee their way onto Season Pass at a $19.99 per month rate that allows for one movie a day. A $1.99 surcharge applies for 3D films as well as online convenience fees.

What do you think? Have you tried either of these services? If so, tell us about your experiences!

Note: Originally published two years ago. Subsequently updated to reflect periodic changes in pricing and/or availability.





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