AMC theaters, such as the one in downtown Spokane, are introducing a new subscription program Tuesday to compete with similar programs like MoviePass.
It’s called AMC Stubs A-list, and for $19.95 a month, members can watch three movies a week at AMC theaters. The membership includes a digital card accessible on phones, in order to prevent passing tickets to others. The three weekly movies include IMAX and 3D movies.
Depending on moviegoers’ habits, it will most likely be cheaper than buying individual tickets from AMC. Single-ticket prices for movies at AMC range from $5.76 to $18.36, depending on the movie, the time it’s being played and extra features such as 3D or IMAX.
A-List’s emergence means there’s more competition for other subscription services like MoviePass, a service that allows people to see one movie a day for $9.95 a month at most major U.S. theaters. MoviePass is often called the “Netflix of theaters” because of its subscription-based model. MoviePass launched last year, and it included most major theaters including AMC theaters. AMC said it will still accept MoviePass at its locations.
But even locally, subscription-based theater memberships are nothing new.
Spokane’s Garland Theater has been offering similar programs for about three years. For $70 a year, or less than $6 a month, the Garland Year Pass allows members to watch unlimited second-run movies as well as enjoy occasional perks like free soda refills during certain months and private showings.
“It’s going really well,” said manager Jasmine Barnes. “We have a couple hundred pass holders.”
Barnes said the membership gives people a sense of belonging, too.
“We know who they are. We make them feel at home,” she said.
Daniel Steinhart, film historian and professor at the University of Oregon, said MoviePass and A-List could be just the beginning.
“Maybe this is just igniting a war of theater subscriptions,” he said.
But theaters have always been changing their business models to entice more people, he said.
In the Depression era, theaters began offering two movies for the price of one and even pioneered offering air conditioning in buildings to get more people into theaters. In the ‘50s, when televisions began to appear in more homes, theaters introduced wide screens and new sound technology.
Nowadays, there are new options to watch films at home on different streaming platforms, like Netflix, and theater chains are trying to adapt with new subscription models such as AMC’s A-List.
Steinhart said in other countries such as France, subscription-based movie memberships are common. The United States has been slower to catch up to the new business model.
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