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With the Cinepolis in Vista no longer accepting MoviePass, North County has lost its last app-friendly theater. Courtesy photo
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Vista’s Cinépolis theater embraces MoviePass app, but won’t explain why

VISTA — MoviePass is a business model on the verge of collapse, at least according to most observers of the company.

Yet until that seemingly inevitable reality ensues, those who use the smartphone app which offers subscribers a $10 fee to see up to three movies at member theaters per month can see just about any movie of their choosing at all of the times they show at the Cinépolis movie theater in Vista. And in the increasingly contracting world of MoviePass, that is an extreme rarity.

The mystery, though, is why this is the case in Vista.

Cinépolis, a luxury chain movie theater company with San Diego County locations in Vista, Del Mar and Carlsbad, declined to comment on the matter. MoviePass, too, referred The Coast News to the Frequently Asked Questions portion of its website and declined to comment on how or why theaters opt-in or opt-out of certain MoviePass time slot or movie offerings.

“We are constantly working to provide moviegoers with as many options as possible each day,” MoviePass spokeswoman Alyssa Allen told The Coast News. “We encourage all members to refer to the schedule and check the app before heading out to the theaters for the most up-to-date movies and showtimes available.”

Both the Carlsbad and Del Mar locations for Cinépolis do not participate in MoviePass at all. And the rest of the participants in MoviePass throughout North County have begun to greatly limit their offerings to dues-paying members of the company.

The Vista Cinépolis, meanwhile, has taken up e-ticketing at the theater for MoviePass members, allowing the members to pick both the movie and screening time far in advance of the film the day which it shows and then print out their ticket on a computer at the theater when they arrive. Most of the theaters in San Diego County, by juxtaposition, have a system in place in which one must be within 100 feet of the theater to reserve a seat for the movie showing. Those screening times often change throughout the day, making it a difficulty to plan a day around.

These dynamics, both the limited number of showings at Escondido’s Regal Escondido Stadium 16 & IMAX Theater and the vast number of showings at the Vista Cinépolis, have motivated some Escondido residents to make the trek to Vista in order to utilize their MoviePass subscriptions to a fuller extent.

One of them is Jeff McLeod, an Escondido resident who uses his MoviePass every Friday to do dinner and a movie dates with his wife. At first, they would go to the local Regal Escondido, but that changed when movie options became much more limited at the local cinema. So, off to Vista’s Cinépolis they went and have continued to go despite the 20- to 30-minute driving sojourn to the theater.

“We knew from the beginning that $10 (a month) was way too good to be true and I read through the user agreement,” explained McLeod. “I found in the contract the section in MoviePass in which the company basically wrote that it could change the terms at any time as needed” and that it had “written itself an out.”

McLeod said that if MoviePass is no longer an option in the future, such as if the company goes south financially, seeing movies in the theater will take place far less often for him and his wife.

Another Escondido resident, Wendy Cajina-Nolte, told The Coast News that she plans to cancel her MoviePass subscription soon, though, because she views Vista as the only theater in the general area which still makes having her membership worth the cost. And she, unlike McLeod, is not willing to make the drive outings to Vista by way of Escondido.

Regardless of how area theaters — including the Vista Cinépolis — choose to interact with MoviePass, it is not clear how much longer the company which many described by financial analysts as a too good to be true business model from its onset in 2017, will remain financially afloat. The stock of its parent company — Helios and Matheson Analytics — is trading at an abysmal two cents per share as of Sept. 11 and MoviePass’ chief product officer recently jumped ship and left the company.

Until if or when it does go out of business though, those interested in MoviePass can sign up on the company’s website or through the smartphone app. Having a smartphone is a mandatory prerogative for those hoping to utilize a MoviePass membership.

1 comment

Pete September 15, 2018 at 4:50 am

This is not how movie pass works. Theaters do not ‘participate’. MP pays full price for tickets. Theaters actually have no say if a movie is available on the MP app. MP sends a credit card to each of its members and when you check in to. Movie they load a set amount onto the card.
What MP was trying to do and did well is show the chains that they can increase ticket sales in a dying industry. They succeeded. They also started limiting what movies can be viewed. They did this a month or so ago to cut cash burn. But by doing this they mad movies like the Meg become #1 for weeks and those movies made fortunes at the theater.
Plus MP is in the datable collection business. We have yet to see what they plan on doing with that data.
The game is not over for them. The company did not set out to send everyone to the movies 20 time’s a month for the sake of burning through 100’s of millions in cash. They have a trick up there sleeve.
At 2 cents a share, it’s a pretty easy gamble. Just my 2 cents.

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