Three Movie Subscription Services, and When They’re Worth It Express News

Additionally, for most theater chains — including the big ones like AMC, Regal and Cinemark — you can’t reserve seats or order online. Instead, you have to be physically at the theater in order to buy a ticket, and you can only buy them on the day you plan to watch the movie. This makes it much harder to plan a movie night ahead of time.

Right off the bat, you have to be a bit of a risk taker to use MoviePass. Its plan sounds remarkably similar to the plan that nearly shut it down in the first place, but there’s no telling when the company will change its plans, or if it will even still be in business a year from now. And paying for the annual plan via bank transfer is especially risky, as it makes it harder to dispute charges and you have to trust MoviePass to secure your banking info properly.

If you can get over those many hurdles, MoviePass is ideal for users who want to have their choice of theater, and who will see at least two to three movies per month. The average ticket price in the US in 2018 was $9.14, which is less than even the cheapest version of the MoviePass plan. Depending on your region, MoviePass can be up to $20 for just 2D showings. You’ll rarely break even on just one movie per month, but two would be a start. If you can hit your limit of all three movies, that would be even better. For the cheapest version, you’ll need to see two movies per month, and the most expensive option would need three or more. Of course, the more you watch, the more likely you are to hit that invisible wall that could start to limit your selection.

By comparison, AMC’s theater subscription plan is much more generous, but slightly more expensive than MoviePass. There’s only one plan, which costs between $19.95 to $23.95 depending on where you live. According to AMC, pricing is $19.95 in 35 states, and only markets where ticket prices are higher than average cost more.

With the A-List plan, you get the following benefits:

  • You can watch up to three movies per week. There are no restrictions on which specific movies you can watch, though A-List can’t be used on special shows like Fathom Events.

  • You can choose 2D, 3D, IMAX or Dolby showings for any of your movies. There’s no upcharge for “premium” showings.

  • You can order ahead and even reserve seats at theaters with assigned seating. There’s no time limit on how far ahead you can order a ticket, though there are limitations on how many reservations you can have at once.

  • Since A-List is part of the Stubs program, you also get discounts and $5 rewards for every $50 spent. The cost of A-List counts toward that reward, which means a $20 per month subscription comes out closer to $18 per month.

AMC could hypothetically offer up to 156 showings per year. While MoviePass claims you can watch a movie a day, it also offers vague threats to limit users who use it “excessively.” It’s also roughly the same price as MoviePass’s monthly plan, but that includes 3D and IMAX showings. Unfortunately, AMC doesn’t offer a lower price tier if you only care about 2D movies.

While you potentially get more movies, there’s one peculiar limitation. You can only have three active “reservations” at a time. While you’re allowed to watch three movies per week, you need to have at least one reservation slot open in order to buy a ticket. If you pre-buy tickets for three movies next month, you can’t order an A-List ticket this week unless you cancel one of those reservations. This usually only affects very heavy movie goers, but it can be an inconvenient hurdle if you like to plan ahead.

A-List is for AMC lovers, first and foremost. If you prefer Regal or Cinemark (or don’t live near an AMC theater), then you’re out. On the other hand, if you can handle the chain lock-in, then A-List can be worth it for as little as one movie a month. IMAX, 3D, and Dolby showings are included — and those tickets can get expensive. In some rare cases, a single premium showing can pay for A-List in a month.

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