Cinemark Launches Monthly Subscription Service

Cinemark is the first major U.S. circuit to launch an unlimited subscription service, Movie Club. The program will offer moviegoers ticket and concessions discounts throughout Cinemark locations nationwide at a monthly price of $8.99.

The program’s main benefits include:

– One 2D Ticket per month, which can be upgraded to a premium format (XD, 3D, DBOX) for a standard upcharge.
– Additional tickets priced at $8.99, with the option of adding one companion ticket per transaction.
– Waived online ticketing fees.
– A 20% discount on concessions.
– Any unused tickets are rolled over to the following month.

Cinemark developed the program following a period of extensive consumer research, considering similar subscription models from other exhibitors and those from different industries: Amazon Audible’s ebook program, music, cable, and OTT services.

“We are thrilled to launch our proprietary movie membership program that is completely consumer research-driven,” said Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi in a press release. “Based on the feedback we received, we designed Movie Club with all of the features and benefits that moviegoers desire most in a membership program without any of the hassle, enabling our guests to enjoy the moviegoing experience with their friends and family.”

Unlimited subscription models are nothing new, best established in Europe where leading circuits like Cineworld, Odeon, and Gaumont Pathe have enjoyed success implementing the concept.

The concept struggled to take off in the United States until earlier this year, after a third-party service, MoviePass, was acquired by data firm Helios & Matheson. MoviePass was relaunched and pursued an aggressive customer-acquisition campaign that slashed its membership price to $9.99 per month. In November, MoviePass announced an even lower price: $89.95 for an annual subscription. The company reached 600 thousand subscribers in October and expects to hit 3.1 million members by August 2018. MoviePass offers members one 2D ticket per day at a theater of their choice, regardless of the exhibitor brand.

The real potential of MoviePass, however, will be untapped with the addition of more exhibitor partners. Partner circuits allow MoviePass members to reserve seats and buy tickets online, not to mention any new features that can be implemented in the future. For every other theater, consumers must travel to their cinema of choice and use the MoviePass card to purchase a ticket—only applicable for same-day screenings. The company currently boasts four leading domestic circuits as partners: B&B Theatres, Goodrich Quality Theaters, MJR Theatres, and Studio Movie Grill. Under the MoviePass model, being brand-agnostic comes at a price when it comes to user experience.

Cinemark isn’t launching a MoviePass “killer” here, that’s not the point. Instead, it offers a straightforward, fully-integrated system that prioritizes user experience, repeat visits, and (obviously) spending at Cinemark locations. According to the MPAA’s 2016 Theatrical Market Statistics Report, the average moviegoer in the U.S. and Canada buys 5.3 tickets per year. Cinemark is betting that 12 tickets a year, with price-matching for a companion, is a high-enough usage cap for consumers, while still protecting the circuit from overuse—a growing concern among investors when it comes to the MoviePass model.

Rather than comparing Cinemark’s Movie Club to the MoviePass all-you-can-view buffet model, it is better to see it as a hybrid between an unlimited service and a premium loyalty program. AMC Theatres, for example, currently offers a premium tier in its loyalty program, AMC Stubbs Premiere, for $15 a year. Cinemark Movie Club, priced at $8.99 per month offers premium loyalty program perks (concessions discounts, waived online ticketing fees) with a “lite” unlimited-viewing subscription feature.

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