Another major U.S. exhibitor has entered the subscription race. Regal, the country’s second-largest movie theater chain, is the latest to launch its own in-house subscription program with the release of its Unlimited offering.
Despite sharing the same name as its European corporate parent’s Cineworld Unlimited subscription scheme, Regal’s solution has been specifically modified for the U.S. market. The plan is available in three tiers: Unlimited, priced at $18/month and available at 200 locations; Unlimited Plus at $21/month and available at 400 locations; and Unlimited All Access at $23.50/month which unlocks over 550 locations nationwide.
Consumers looking to access a location not included in their plan will be charged a surcharge between $1.50 and $3 on top of their monthly fee, with additional surcharges applying to premium auditoriums like RPX (Regal’s private-label PLF), IMAX, 4DX immersive seating, and ScreenX panoramic screens. There is no cap to the number of standard-format movies consumers can attend each month, nor blackout dates for new releases. A 10% discount on all concessions and non-alcoholic beverages is included in the plan.
Analysts had been expecting Regal’s entry into subscription since Cineworld announced plans to acquire the company in late 2017. Weeks before news of the acquisition broke, former Regal CEO Amy Miles mentioned plans to launch dynamic pricing through their digital ticketing partner, Atom Tickets, during a conference call with investors. Dynamic pricing was never mentioned again as speculation mounted that new corporate parent Cineworld would export its popular subscription scheme to the U.S. circuit. Regal and Atom Tickets ended their partnership earlier this month.
Anticipation for Regal’s subscription plan mounted after details of the plan leaked on Reddit and were reported by Deadline earlier this summer. Regal didn’t provide details of their plan to the press, opting instead to quietly announce the program’s launch on their website.
Although the concept has proved popular in European markets for more than a decade, cinema subscriptions only took off in the United States after third party players like MoviePass and Sinemia connected with consumers in 2017. The busines model behind those third-party plans proved unsustainable; Sinemia folded its straight-to-consumer subscription division days before the debut of Avengers: Endgame, while MoviePass went offline for a suspiciously-timed “maintenance” period ahead of the busy July 4th holiday weekend.
Consumer focus has since shifted to embracing exhibitor-driven subscription plans. Several of the country’s Top 50 exhibition circuits have launched their own in-house offerings, including AMC, Cinemark, Showcase, Studio Movie Grill, Megaplex, Alamo Drafthouse, and Studio C by Celebration! Cinema.
Digital ticketing players Atom Tickets and Influx announced plans to offer bespoke subscription solutions for exhibitors on the eve of CinemaCon 2019. Sinemia signaled it would also be pivoting its business to a B2B focus at the event, hosting a gala to announce the launch of their own white-label subscription division.
AMC’s Stubs A-List subscription plan is currently the most popular program among U.S. consumers, with more than 860 thousand members since late June.