Like all other theater chains, AMC Theatres has seen a drop-off in ticket revenue as more consumers gather around the warm glow of streaming video. To combat this phenomenon, AMC is embracing the old saying: If you can’t beat ‘em, adopt their business model.
The chain is now offering a subscription service in partnership with MoviePass that will allow theatergoers to watch one movie per day for a monthly fee. It’s a clear shot across the bow of Netflix, the reigning king of streaming movies and television.
The new service is partly an attempt to draw younger consumers back into theaters; millennial attendance has dropped off as AMC’s ticket prices have continued to rise. Christina Sternberg, senior vice president for corporate strategy at AMC, told the New York Times, “It frankly wouldn’t be smart to ignore the success of subscription in other areas of media,” referring to services like Spotify and Netflix.
MoviePass, a three-year-old company, has attempted to find success with traditional theaters in the past, but big chains used to be wary of the subscription model. MoviePass co-founder and CEO Stacy Spikes said the company’s subscriber base is largely in the 18-to-34 demographic, making them the same consumers that AMC is trying to entice back to their venues. AMC took a small step toward millennial engagement last month, experimenting with an unlimited pass for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.
Next month, AMC theaters in Boston and Denver will roll out the MoviePass partnership, offering a streaming movie each day for $35 per month. The cost for IMAX or 3D is $45 per month. Users will need to download the app to find show times.
Customers will still have to go to theaters to use the service; they can’t stream the films at home. The question for AMC is whether the MoviePass partnership will be enough of an incentive to draw people off of their couches and into AMC’s theater seats.